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 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 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 stretch off into the distance. Photo Simon Coggins.||The last nose cone arrives at Halley, signalling the end of relief. Photo Karl Tuplin.|