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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Resupply and the Art of "Hurry Up and Wait."

The resupply of Casey as I know it anyway, is in two main parts. Fuel and Station restocking supplies. All these goodies arrive primarily on the P&O ice breaker, Aurora Australis. The refueling is only done under the strictest controls you can imagine. The last place you need is 850000lts of fuel going astray is this place. Constantly monitored both on water and land it takes just under 24hrs to complete. Resupply of the other goods can go on during the refueling, but it tends to slow. It can take 7 odd days to complete the whole resupply.  The goods are brought ashore on a Hamilton Jet powered barge of aluminium construction. This barge has a payload of 11 tonne. The barge is removed from the water each night in case of weather changes or unexpected leaks.The cargo is removed from the barge using a Grove mobile crane and on to a Mack "Tonka" truck or skidder pulled trailer. Everything from refrigerated containers (reefers) to new machinery goes back up to the station this way. Up at the station, various people organize the incoming stock into the allocated storage areas. The unpacking of the reefers can be a pain as it sometimes has to be done by hand. That being some 10 tonnes of frozen foods. But, a human chain can do this easily right into the store freezers in no time.The turn around time of the barge will vary, but around 1 hour is good. So, the term hurry up and wait is used alot as there is a bit of waiting around by truck drivers, beach masters, dogman and crane drivers down at the wharf. There is just nothing else to do, except wait. So, read a book, take the lap top down, listen to the old iPod or play cards.There is a temp. building down at the wharf that is used to have meals and hot drinks in. It is equipped with UHF radio for comms and is heated of course. During resupply, for myself, I am one of two drivers of the Mack Tonka, and for the refueling I'm on what they call the lower fuel farm, as a monitor. The Mack Tonka, for those who need to know, is an ex army 6x6 vehicle. It has a 5 speed crash box which is relatively easy to clutchless change. It comes with a tipping body and a flat bed for resupply. It doesn't perform that well in the snow. Anything soft and you need to engage the front diff for full 6x6. The mini excavator we loaded is 5100kg in wt and has zero swing capability. Nice little machine for around the home. Will be used on science projects and around the station for capital works once the science is completed. During resupply, returns to Australia, such as recyclable
goods, wastes that cannot be destroyed on site, empty shipping containers, machinery that need major overhauls, are loaded onto the Australis. Also returning to Australia will be some of last winters expeditioners who have been in Antarctica for over 12 months
More resupply pics at


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