Archive for the 'Vehicles' Category

09/10 Season - Halley Relief

While the modules were being dug out and towed at Halley, all of the cladding panels and materials required to finish the build were being consolidated at the Cape Towndocks and loaded on to a large freighter the MV Igarka.Cargo for Igarka
Cargo consolidation in Capetown

In preparation for the Igarka’s arrival and our own BAS ship the RRS Ernest Shackleton, which had food, fuel and passengers on board, we found a creek with some suitable sea-ice in it, prepared a ramp and prepared and edge.

Creek from twin Otter aircraft
Relief creek viewed from a Twin Otter Aircraft

When each shipped arrived it was an all out effort to get them unloaded and keep the construction site going. At the finish we had completed in excess of 400 sledge rotations just emptying the Igarka and created over 4km of stores lines for the construction site.

unloading the ship
Unloading panels from the Igarka - photo Susanna Gaynor

Cargo unloading Cargo moveing
Moving cargo away from the ship - Susanna Gaynor
Moving cargo across the seaice - Susanna Gaynor

Through all this the local penguin population would look on with bemusement. We would often get a gang of teenage penguins, in various states of moult, waddle over and hang around the mooring lines watching us and mess about with the lines and dead-men anchors (just like teenagers the world over).Penguin watching the action
Young penguin watching the action

Both ships
RSS Shackleton with the MV Igarka behind

The way from ship to station
The route from the ship to Halley Station from the cab of a John Deere tractor

Link | Posted by Mike in Vehicles, Construction on January 12th, 2010

Halley Relief

A lot has been happening at Halley in the last couple of weeks, so much so that it’s hard to summarise it all! On 20th December the Ernest Shackleton arrived at the coast, signalling the start of 24 hour relief. The site this year was Creek 4, and already Martin and Ben had been busy preparing a route by smoothing the snow down from the shelf onto the sea ice. With all plans made for the worse case scenario of a 56km N9 relief, running relief from just 12km gave our new vehicles some breathing room, and freed up much needed personnel to help load and unload the cargo onto sledges at either end.

The ramp at Creek 4 A Challenger pulling sledges back to the station
The Creek 4 ramp was extra wide this year to accommodate the construction cargo. Photo Mark Wales. A CAT Challenger towing three sledges of cargo back to Halley. Photo Mark Wales.

The first items off the ship were all needed quickly on site - new vehicles and sledges (including a huge Mantis crane on tracks), plus all the equipment needed to build extra accommodation for the coming season. After that came the usual supplies to keep the station running for another year, plus extra food and fuel to support the increased numbers. Just as we finished back-loading outgoing cargo and waste the Amderma arrived, right on cue. This enormous cargo vessel brought down all the supplies needed for the construction this season. First off were the seven steel spaceframes that form the basis of the modules followed quickly by an endless supply of wooden boxes and shipping containers. With everyone now in the swing of relief progress on the Halley VI cargo was rapid and before long there was a line of boxes and containers stretching across the site.

The Amderma moored up against the sea ice
The Amderma from the air, shortly after arriving at the coast. Photo Mark Wales.

Space frame being craned off the ship Working the sea ice next to the Amderma
The first space frame is unloaded from the ship. Photo Karl Tuplin. Working the sea ice next to the Amderma, with the RSS Ernest Shackleton visible in the distance. Photo Karl Tuplin.

After two weeks of non-stop activity, the last pieces of cargo (two nose-cones that will form the outer shell of a module) were finally unloaded and brought to the station. In total 346 sledges of cargo were hauled to station in 12 days by 205 vehicle rotations - a fantastic achievement by all involved!

Halley VI Cargo lines on the ice The last nose cone arrives at Halley
Halley VI Cargo lines stretch off into the distance. Photo Simon Coggins. The last nose cone arrives at Halley, signalling the end of relief. Photo Karl Tuplin.
Link | Posted by Simon in Vehicles, Construction on January 4th, 2008

Charter Ship

With ten times the normal quantity of cargo going into Halley this season it was clear that we were going to need a much bigger ship than the Ernest Shackleton, our normal resupply vessel. The photo below shows the cargo ship that we have chartered, the 177 metre, 34,000 tonne MV Amderma.

Comparison between the Shackleton and the new cargo ship
The MV Amderma, with the Ernest Shackleton shown to scale.

The Shackleton is due to reach Halley in the middle of December with the MV Amderma arriving a few days later.

Link | Posted by Simon in Vehicles, Construction on September 4th, 2007

Summer at Halley

The BAS ship RRS Ernest Shackleton is now heading north after another busy summer season at Halley - the last before the beginning of the construction of Halley VI next year. For the Halley VI team this was our last chance to complete testing and start preparing the station for construction - and there was a lot to do.

Vehicle testing

Martin’s new vehicle fleet were quick to get stuck into the job of moving cargo from the ship to the station. Soon after they had been offloaded they took over the job of relief from the snocat fleet. We will be relying on these huge vehicles next season to move all the construction materials from the ship to the station, so we were pleased to see they were up to the task. The Challengers where able to pull up to 48 tonnes at speeds of 20km/h, compared to 10 tonnes at 10km/h for a snocat. The John Deere tractors proved invaluable as multipurposes vehicles, pulling cargo, lifting containers and palettes of cargo or grooming roadways.

Vehicles at work
Top left: John Deere is craned off the ship during relief… Top right: …and immediately put to work. Bottom: Challenger pulls three sledges of fuel drums to the station.

With relief out of the way we were able to turn our attention to the summer work programme. In order to reduce travel times next season the garage and summer accommodation buildings were to be moved closer to the rest of the site. With each building weighing 60 tonnes, the new vehicles again proved useful, but even this was just a warm up - the big test was yet to come.

Garage being towed
The Challengers preparing to move the garage to its new home.

The new station relies on a series of ski based modules, each of which can be towed across the ice shelf. To ease construction the new station will actually be built at the site of Halley V, then towed 15km away to its final destination. Of course we need to be sure that the vehicles will be capable of towing the structures we are going to build, and with modules weighing up to 140 tonnes, that’s no small feat.

The Loaded Test Sledge
Loading vehicles onto the test sledge to bring it up to weight.

To be sure they were up to the job we built a second steel sledge, to join to the smaller one that was built last year for the initial vehicle testing. These sledges have the same sort of skis as the modules will, so they represent a similar challenge to move. The test sledges were loaded with everything we could find to get them up to weight then towed over a variety of surfaces (fresh snow, groomed snow, heavily compacted snow). Once again the new vehicles proved themselves to be up to the task - at their peak they were pulling a load of 155 tonnes!

Pulling the Test Sledge
Pulling the test sledge.

Snow Models

On a completely different scale, 1:50 models of the current Laws platform, along with three of the Halley VI modules were brought in this year to study the effect of snow accumulation on the new base. The data will be used to complement data from numerical models and will help us to understand the snow management that will be required at Halley VI. The model of the Laws platform showed us that the wind tails produced by the small models accurately represent what actually happens on station. The Halley VI models suggested that the more aerodynamic shape of the new buildings will lead to smaller wind tails than are produced at Halley V. A second positive benefit is that the legs of the new buildings appear to remain clear of snow, which should make the jacking procedure more straightforward.

Laws Scale Model Halley VI Scale Model
Left: Scale model of the Laws Platform, with the real thing in the background. The wooden stakes were used to measure the amount of accumulation at various distances from the model. Right: Wind tails produced by the Halley VI modules. The building shape is designed to keep the legs clear of snow.

Site Planning

With the Halley V site due to become a construction site next year we spent some time marking out the areas where the building work would take place, as well as where the completed modules would be parked up for the winter once they were finished. At the same time the Halley VI site was also being marked out. Next year the foundations for the masts need to be placed so the locations of many of the buildings needed to be calculated.

This gave us an opportunity to visit the site that will become Halley VI over the next few years. At present it is flat ice like the rest of the ice shelf, with the only distinguishing feature being an automatic weather station that is collecting data on the new site.

Halley VI Team at the Halley VI site
The Halley VI Project Team visit the Halley VI site. Left to right: Paul Cousens, Martin Bell, Simon Coggins.

Finally there was a great deal of planning and preparation work to be done - removing unnecessary stock and working out exactly what would happen to all the equipment that is currently on base. Rod Downie was visiting from the Environment Division to look at the amount of waste that would be generated by the removal of Halley V, so that we can look into recycling as much of it as possible.

Link | Posted by Simon in Vehicles, Science, Environmental on March 2nd, 2007

Vehicle Testing and Loading

October saw the finishing touches being made to the vehicle fleet that will be used at Halley to transfer all the building materials from the ship to the construction site. Two John Deere tractors were fitted with special track systems to allow them to cope with the conditions at Halley. Two Challenger bulldozers were also tested and fitted with pre-heating systems that will allow them to work down to low temperatures. After being put through their paces by Martin they were loaded onto trucks and drove to the docks at Immingham. They were then transferred onto the RRS Ernest Shackleton for their long journey to the Antarctic. They will arrive on site just before Christmas, at which point they will immediately go into service supporting the Halley relief operation.

John Deere Tractor Challenger Bulldozer
Left: Martin trying out the new track based John Deere tractors. Right: A Challenger tractor.
Link | Posted by Simon in Vehicles on October 15th, 2006