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1 September 2002 - The End refit and a little trip up north

RRS James Clark Ross


Update (1st September 2002)

Noon Position : 57° 52.2' North, 8° 54.8' West, (About 12 miles south east of Kristiansand)

Air temperature @ Noon today : 17.1 °C

Sea temperature @ Noon today : 18.8 °C

The End refit, a little trip up north and handover once more.

As you'll have guessed from our noon position we're on the move once more having completed refit and sailed from the shipyard on the 24th August. We then completed all the trials work the following day in the local area, before the ship proceeded up the English channel and into the North Sea heading for Northern Germany. We then passed through the Kiel canal before arriving at the Swedish port of Malmö on the 28th August. The purpose in our visit to Malmö was to collect building sections for a new laboratory at Rothera Research Station, more of this later.

We departed Malmö yesterday and passed up the Kattegat (between Sweden and Denmark) and into the Skagerrat off Southern Norway. Now you might be expecting us to turn left and head for Grimsby, but that would be all too simple for us, as we also have to calibrate a new echosounder system in the hull. To do this we are heading for a Norwegian fjord just south of Bergen. It's a place we did initial calibrations of the previous system some seven years ago. The trials will consist of mooring up for a day and dangling spheres in the way of the transducer beams to give a known signal and then steaming up and down a fjord at various speeds to measure any inherent noise that the vessels motion might cause the instrument.

Anyway on completion of all that, it's off to Grimsby to rearrange some of the loaded cargo to allow new stuff to come onboard ready to sail for the Antarctic a few days later. However, possibly the most important item happens as far as the present crew are concerned, that is the other crew join and we go on leave. Therefore, after the rest of this diary page is completed we'll leave you in the hands of Captain Burgan and his team for the first half of the season and see you all again in 2003. So it is good bye from Captain Elliott's crew and may we take this opportunity of wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, see you next year.

The End of Refit

So we've been out of refit for over a week now and some of the following items seem a long time ago already. When we last wrote, we went into some of the details of one of the major jobs occurring this year, that of the Inerta hull coating being replaced in the worst affected areas. A thousand square metres of the hull was finally recoated, mostly around the bow and on the sides of the ship, which come most into contact with the ice. This was a major construction project for the yard as the bow and ship's sides became covered in a huge tent, as can be seen the photograph below left. In previous years when the hull was painted, covers were draped between the dockside and the ship to protect it from the weather and prevent spray escaping, this time scaffolding was used to support the cover and it descended all the way to the dock floor in places. When this was all completed, a final shot blasting took place to prepare the hull for the paint. Then it was straight on with the Inerta coat followed by a fixing coat over the top, work progressed at this point very quickly. So quick in fact, we completely failed to get a photograph of the black Inerta base coat, it's the grey fixing coat that can be seen in the photograph below centre. Then we have the finished result, shown below right, with the bow exposed to sunlight once more showing off the new paint job. If you look closely on this final picture enlarged you can see some of the different steel plates that make up the JCR's hull, each plate being of a different thickness to do a specific job.

JCR goes camping!. Click to enlarge. First the Inerta and then the undercoat. Click to enlarge. New bows!. Click to enlarge.

The JCR shrouded in tenting before painting begins. Click to enlarge.

The bow with new undercoat. Click to enlarge.

The bow exposed once more to daylight. Click to enlarge.

Once all the work is completed it was just left for a final dock bottom inspection before the water is allowed back in to float the ship off the blocks. This is to double check that all the bungs temporarily fitted, have been removed and that everything is back in place and secured. As it'll be another year before it can be inspected again, all being well. The picture below shows Captain Elliott and Andy Liddell doing the rounds at the stern of the ship.

Captain Elliott inspecting the propellor before flooding the dock. Click to enlarge. Captain inspecting the propeller. Click to enlarge

When everyone is satisfied, the event occurs that sometimes you doubt will ever happen during a refit and the flood gates are opened and the sea races in, below left. It's a bit of an occasion, as even Richard Turner (Chef) joined George Stewart our Bosun at the stern to watch the water rise. The water is allowed to rise up the ship's side just enough to cover the intakes and sea valves, this allows items removed in refit to be checked to see that they are tight and the hull is free from leaks. Once this is done the water is allowed to rise even further until the vessel rises free of the blocks and floats once more.

Water at last!. Click to enlarge. Even the Chef came out to see!. Click to enlarge.

The water rushes in. Click to enlarge

Richard Turner (Chef) and George Stewart (Bosun) watching. Click to enlarge

Once surrounded by water again the job of bringing the ship fully back to life begins in earnest with the starting of the main engines, so that we supply all our own electricity again. This then allows us to test lots of equipment that could not be run on the shore power system. This year included load testing of the some parts of the gantries and cranes after being repaired. So after a full day in the dock afloat testing it was time to go back to sea. First this was out to anchor in Portsmouth harbour, while further testing was carried out, pictured below right. During this time our launch acted as a taxi service to the shore, below left we can see our launchman Derek Jenkins at the helm. This is the launch's last major outing for BAS, because after 45 years service, on various ships, she is being replaced. However, we dare say she'll continue for sometime to come in a quieter role somewhere.

Derek at the helm!. Click to enlarge. Back to sea. Click to enlarge.

Derek Jenkins (AB) at the helm of the launch. Click to enlarge.

JCR swinging on the buoy in Portsmouth harbour. Click to enlarge.

Once the harbour trials were completed it was off for a day steaming up and down the coast of the Isle of Wight to put the engines through their paces. On completion it was off up the channel towards Dover and our first job.

Kiel Canal Passage

Once through the straits of Dover the ship kept to the European coast passing Belgium, Holland and up the German coast to the river Elbe. This is the gateway to the port of Hamburg and the Kiel canal. It was the canal that we were heading for on our way to Malmö in Sweden to collect cargo. The journey involves taking several pilots for the various sections involved. Firstly, we have a River Pilot for the first three hours from the river's mouth to the entrance lock of the canal. Then you have two different sets of pilots to take you the nearly one hundred kilometres to Kiel on the Baltic side of the canal. Taking the canal on our way to Malmö gave us a shorter journey by some 114 nautical miles (211 km) saving some nine or ten hours steaming time on the passage. In the pictures below you can see some of the canal activities; the left hand one shows the lock at the western canal entrance as us and two other ships "squeezed" in and the right-hand one shows the two way traffic and how relatively little room there is between the banks for ocean going ships. We spent about eight hours on our passage through which saw us departing Kiel in darkness around half past nine in the evening.

Room for one more!. Click to enlarge. Passing ships. Click to enlarge.

Room for just one more in the lock! Click to enlarge.

Kiel Canal Traffic. Click to enlarge.

The one thing to be said for going through the canal there is always something to look at as you pass through fields and villages, with cows grazing along the banks treating us to smells not normally experienced at sea! Of course there is the old favourite of a little ship spotting to pass the time as we see Gerry Armour (3rd Eng) and Tom Elliott (Extra 4th Eng) doing after work. The strains of God Save the Queen were even heard at one point as one cafe apparently plays the national anthem for every ship as it passes.

Tom and Gerry doing a bit of ship spotting!. Click to enlarge. Ship Spotting. Click to enlarge

A Visit to Malmö, Sweden

Approaching Malmö from the Baltic side meant that we had to sail under the Oresund Link bridge. This is part of the direct road and rail connection between Sweden and Denmark. To pass from Sweden to Denmark you travel over the bridge to a man-made island from where you use a tunnel to reach the Danish coast and it's capital of Copenhagen. It's a very impressive structure when seen from any vantage point, but particularly from the water with the railway some 55 metres above you.

The Bridge on the Swedish side of the Oresund Link, joining it to Denmark. Click to enlarge.The Bridge on the Swedish side of the Oresund Link, joining it to Denmark. Click to enlarge.

Then it was into Malmö's harbour itself and a busy time for the Chief Officer, deck department and the logistics manager from Cambridge as the plan was put into effect to load all the building sections onboard for shipping back to the UK. The building is a new laboratory for Rothera station to replace the one, unfortunately, destroyed in a fire last September. The structure itself has been designed and built by TopHousing, which is the Swedish company who built the Rothera accommodation extension and new South Georgia station a couple of years ago. The main contractor for the project is Morrisons (Falklands) Ltd and so when we get to Grimsby some of the building sections required later in the project will be discharged to be shipped on commercially later. This will leave room for other equipment and foundation materials needed immediately the ship arrives in Rothera in late November, it's all one great big jigsaw puzzle at this time of year. The pictures below show the forward hold (left) and aft deck (right) covered with cargo.

Room for more!. Click to enlarge. More boxes!. Click to enlarge.

The forward hold being loaded. Click to enlarge.

The after deck disappears under a sea of cargo. Click to enlarge.

Amidst all this activity there was some time to venture ashore into the town, mostly in the evenings once work had stopped, to explore and take in the local sights. The lovely summer weather experienced making it all the more enjoyable, we suspect that this is not unusual at this time of year with all the cafes and restaurants offering pavement eating. The couple of pictures below, hopefully, give a flavour of the town.

Malmo. Click to enlarge. Malmo. Click to enlarge.

Downtown Malmö. Click to enlarge.

Alfresco eating in the summer sun. Click to enlarge.

And Finally.... One Rufus Bear!

A brief note concerning a new member of the ships company, namely one Rufus lately resident of the Royal Standard hostelry in Portsmouth. Apparently the said bear has been put into the charge of several members of the crew for a voyage to the Antarctic, so when we return look out for his adventures. We would have provided a photograph at this point, but the editor was informed that he has gone into hibernation until January, but has coped with his first sea passages extremely well and we do not envisage any problems during the rest of his voyage.