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28 Jul - A quick update

Date:  Sunday 28 July  2002.
Position @ 1200 (UTC): Adjacent ETAPS CPF Platform
Next destination: Unknown at this time
ETA: Unknown at this time

Current weather:  High clouds, slight horizon haze
Wind:  Southwesterley 15-20 knots
Barometric pressure:  1016.0 mb and steady
Sea state: Low seas, moderate southerly swell
Air temperature:  18.1°C.
Sea temperature: 15.0°C.

No Position Reports are available during our stay in the North Sea since we cease doing meteorological observations.

Map of North Sea - Click to enlargeClick on map to magnify detail.

The vessel arrived in Aberdeen in the early hours of Thursday 25th July for the crew changeover, with the new BAS personnel all joining at 0730.

The vessel then departed at 0100 on Friday morning, to continue with the GVI survey.

Whilst all this has been happening in the North Sea, a far more interesting drama is taking place in the Antarctic.

A German vessel, Magdalena Oldendorff, was on charter to the Russians and had an extended stay in the Antarctic. When it was time to head north she encountered heavy pack ice and became ice-bound.

A number of vessels were then called to her rescue. Initially S.A. Agulhaus sailed from Cape Town, with two helicopters onboard, and made for the Oldendorff's position. Due to the ice she only managed to get to within 180 miles and then used the helicopters to evacuate all non essential personnel. This left a team of 18 onboard to keep the ship running.

At the same time the Argentinian naval vessel and ice-breaker, Almirante Irizar, was mobilised from Buenos Aries and proceeded across to the east to attempt to break a passage for the Oldendorff to escape. As a standby, a Swedish ice-breaker Oden was also mobilised and started to steam from Sweden southwards. Due to the good progress of the Irizar the Oden was put on hold in mid-Atlantic for a number of days as it looked as though her help would not be required.

On about 18th July the Irizar managed to reach the Oldendorff and transfer fuel and supplies, before attempting to break a path out for the cargo ship. The Oden was sent north again to Sweden.

However, as the week progressed it became apparent that getting out was more difficult that getting in, and the Oden was ordered to bunker for fuel and load stores and head south once again.

The latest information that I have has the Almirante Irizar and the Magdalena Oldendorff stopped in a zone protected from the ice field and the sea currents.

For further information (updated daily normally) check out the Almirante Irizar site.

The main site for the Almirante Irizar can be found here.

The Ernest Shackleton will continue working in the North Sea until 26th September and then will head to Portsmouth for a refit. This should be completed by 21st October and she will then proceed to, most likely, Immingham to load cargo for the 2002/3 Antarctic season. All being well the vessel will sail for the South Atlantic on 28th October.

28 July 2002