Latest News

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

Halley VI taking shape

The photo below shows the steel frame for one of the Halley VI modules, currently under construction in Cape Town.

Steel frame of a module

Construction workers (bottom left) dwarfed by the structure.

Link | Posted by Simon in Construction on July 20th, 2007

Change to RSS feed

Due to a redesign of BAS’s website this site will be relocating to the following location from Monday 2nd July:

For those following the website via its RSS feed, you may need to resubscribe to the feed by clicking on the orange RSS icon on the left of the new site.

Link | Posted by Simon in Website on June 28th, 2007

More Fabrication

Fabrication is continuing at a furious pace, with many recognisable parts of the new station starting to come off the production line. Various specialist contractors are involved, each with their own key roles and responsibilities that must fit into the project as a whole.

The Mechanical and Electrical Services construction continues with the detailed design and supply of the energy modules, the most complex technical element of Halley VI.

Energy Module Schematic
A CAD drawing of the mechanical and electrical services in one of the energy modules.

Before any actual module service fabrication can take place, the whole module is modelled in 3D by Merit Merrell, (our M&E supply subcontractor) using Faber Maunsell CAD construction drawings. This is the ensure that none of the services clash, while also checking and adjusting the layout design to give the most efficient use of space.
Once a system is built up and checked, each specialist service manufacturer can accurately build their systems in component form ready for shipping.
The Merit Merrell 3D model shown is an overview of all the services in energy module E1.

Generators during testing
Supervising the generator tests. The grey pipe network above the cells is the exhaust heat recovery system.

Four Westac Power generator units that have recently been built and tested. The units have been designed in a combined heat and power configuration, where the generator engine provides power and also makes use of the waste heat to warm the buildings. Testing is carried out using the same fuel and coolant used in the Antarctic, in order to determine the actual power output and heat recovery. The engine cooling circuits are the primary heating source for Halley VI, and Faber Maunsell were in attendance to confirm that the engine heat recovery profile matches heating design model.

The steelwork and external envelope of the building is being constructed in South Africa by a Consortium called Antarctic Marine & Climate Centre (AM&CC). This consists of Design Coordination and Project Management by Outsite, Structural Steelwork by Petrel Engineering Ltd and Cladding and Glazing by MMS Technologies.

Working on the cladding panels A finished cladding panel
Making the moulds for the exterior cladding panels. The moulds are filled with resin to create the Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) panels. A finished cladding panel for the underside of one of the standard modules..
Steelwork The steel space-frame
Construction of the steelwork that will form the upper framework of the modules. Part of the steel space-frame that forms the base of the modules. These are be mounted on skis and towed to base during relief.

In order to provide enough fresh water for the construction workers who will be on site during the building of Halley VI, one of the Halley VI water melting tanks will be commissioned this year. Merit Merrell is doing the melt tank design and fabrication work.

Schematic of melt tanks
The setup of the new melt tanks and the link bridge that will connect the two sides of the base at Halley VI.

In order to speed up construction on site, many of the rooms will be constructed as fully furnished pods in the UK and then just slotted into place on site. Bathroom, bedroom and plant room pods are already under construction by Servacomm Redhall Ltd. The photos below show pod detail from a recent site visit to the supplier’s works.

Pod from the outside Plantroom Pod
A bathroom pod from the outside. A plant room pod before fit out.
Bedroom pod Bathroom pod
Inside a bedroom pod. Inside a bathroom pod.

As previously described the Hydraulics for the platform legs are beginning to come off the production line. Titan Engineering are carrying out the hydraulic design and construction.

Other subcontractors involved in the project include Joyce and Reddington (Joinery), Framework CDM (Floor Cassettes), Trelleborg Woodville (Module connections), Marioff Ltd (Fire suppression), TAC (Building Management System), Gertsen & Olufsen (Sewage Treatment Works) and TSC (Masts and towers).

Floor cassette M & E cassette
A wooden floor cassette showing the area of a standard module. Mechanical and electrical pipe work for each module is also pre-fabricated in sections so it can be dropped in place on site.
Link | Posted by Simon in Construction on June 7th, 2007

Fabrication and Testing

With the construction due to start early next year, many of the different parts of the station are now being fabricated and tested before being shipped down to Antarctica.

On the mechanical and electrical front, the hydraulic leg construction and testing commenced during March, with the first four legs being produced at the manufacturers works in Halifax. They are due to be shipped to South Africa for fitting to the test module being assembled there.

This picture was taken during one of the leg tests, with the test leg fully extended. For ease of testing the leg was positioned upside down, allowing access to the hydraulic connections that would normally be encased inside the building at the top of the leg.

one of the Hydraulic legs
A hydraulic leg being tested.

The grey casing shown will be mostly concealed inside the building steel work and cladding, and has been treated with a special fireproof coating for structural protection.The white leg section is clad in a fibreglass wrap material, designed to protect against the severe temperature variations that the Brunt Ice Shelf experiences.

All of the hydraulics and control hardware were demonstrated to satisfaction during the visit, with many of the design innovations becoming apparent as the testing and demonstration progressed.

Link | Posted by Simon in Construction on April 24th, 2007

Fire Testing

The detailing of the Halley VI design continues and particularly for the composite panels that will be used to form the shell of the structure. The design and fabrication of these heavily insulated panels is being undertaken in South Africa where recently a series of fire tests were completed.

Fire is an ever present hazard in the Antarctic where humidity is very low. The loss of a structure can have a severe impact, particularly during the winter months when external temperatures are very low and there is no daylight. To alert station personnel if a fire starts in the new Halley VI station, a comprehensive fire detection system is to be installed. This is backed up by a water mist suppression system, which will stop most fires developing and engulfing the station.

To ensure the structure can withstand a fire both inside and outside, fire tests were completed to the standard required by the London Underground, which exceeds the normal British Standard requirements. Testing has been carried out both in South Africa and at the Building Research Establishment in the UK. The tests showed that the structure can withstand a fire lasting for over 30 minutes, which provides enough time to enable the occupants to escape the building safely.

Fire testing in South Africa Fire testing in South Africa
Fire testing in South Africa. Before and after the BRE test.
Link | Posted by Simon in Construction on April 3rd, 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

Final Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation for Halley VI
CEE Cover Image

BAS has released a Final Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE) for the Construction of Halley VI and the demolition of Halley V for comment by the ATCM Committee for Environmental Protection. It sets out in detail how the station will be constructed, operated and eventually removed in order to minimise the impact to the local environment. It also details how the existing Halley V research station will be demolished and removed from Antarctica.

Link | Posted by Simon in Environmental on December 21st, 2006

New Website Launched

Welcome to the new Halley VI website! The new site is designed to make it easier to keep up to date with the progress of the Halley VI project. Regular updates will be posted to this page over the coming years detailing what the team have been up to.

The new site also contains some background information on previous Halley stations and the need for a new one, plus details of the new design, the vehicles we will be using and who is involved with the project. Just follow the links at the top of the page for more information.

Link | Posted by Simon in Website on November 8th, 2006

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