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Wed August 05 2020

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Milestone reached at Antarctic wharf

14 Mar 19 The first 55t frame has been lowered into place for a new 74m-long wharf being built in Antarctica as a berth for the polar vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough.

BAM, with Ramboll as technical advisor, is building the wharf for British Antarctic Survey (BAS) at the Rothera Research Station by BAM (link opens in new tab). Other members of the technical advisory team are Turner & Townsend and Norr Architects.

Installation of the first frame following two months of deconstructing the old wharf. The current construction phase involves the construction of seven of the total of 20 frames that will make up the wharf’s skeleton.

Over the weekend, divers completed the final part of the wharf deconstruction along the sea bed, making way for the first 55t frame to be installed on Tuesday. It was lowered into position onto temporary guides from a 300t crane in an operation that took 12 hours.

In relatively warm and sunny conditions, the team worked throughout the evening fine-tuning the setting out of the frame to within the 40mm tolerance.

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BAM project engineer Ian Wenkenbach said: “Two years of planning came to bear fruit yesterday, with the successful installation of the critical first frame. The full-scale trial assembly and lift undertaken back in September in the UK ensured that the operation here in Antarctica went according to plan.

“To install the frames, which form the skeleton of the new structure, we are using a hydraulic jacking system, a concept developed in-house to allow accurate levelling of the frames after installation, as well as specially designed lifting frames, support structures and access platforms.”

Ramboll site supervisor Alan Roper added: “There is a great sense of achievement here in Rothera at this crucial milestone as the deconstruction of the existing wharf makes way for construction of the new wharf. Overseeing yesterday’s successful operation was a very proud moment for all of the BAM, BAS and Ramboll team.”

Materials and equipment for the project have been shipped from the UK. Keyline Civils Specialists, working in partnership with the Hanson Ketton cement plant, is helping coordinate the project and supply materials. The first shipment left from Middlesbrough dock in December 2018, with further shipments in January and February 2019.

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