A cargo ship loaded with the steel and construction equipment has arrived at British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station. Staff awaiting its arrival cheered as the DS Wisconsin pulled alongside, guided for the final few hours through sea ice by the ice-strengthened RRS Ernest Shackleton.
Work began immediately on the huge task of unloading the cargo, which is likely to take around two weeks.
The ship, containing plant, 83 containers, permanent and temporary materials and 1,000t of steelwork, departed the UK in late November for her month-long journey.
Once the ship is unloaded, BAM Nuttall can begin deconstructing the old wharf and building a new one big enough to safely berth the new polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
British Antarctic Survey programme manager David Seaton said: “The arrival of the Wisconsin here in Rothera is extremely welcome, and we are all now very keen to get on with the work of building the new wharf – an integral part of modernising our infrastructure and keeping the UK at the forefront of polar science.”
BAM project manager Martha McGowan added: “It was a major logistical undertaking to get every single thing needed to build a wharf in freezing Antarctic waters loaded onto one ship. One month and 11,000km later, it is very good to see all that hard work paying off.”
An additional 50 members of the construction team are present at Rothera this season in order to deliver the first phase of wharf work. This includes deconstruction the old wharf, and building the rear section of the new one. Completion of the project is scheduled for April 2020.