The two machines departed on the first leg of their journey from London to South Africa on 6th December 2012 on board the SA Agulhas, arriving nearly two weeks later. Then, following a short stint at a Cape Town port, they spent a further ten days in the cargo hold of the former polar research vessel, sailing down to Crown Bay, where the two units are now fully functional on the Antarctic ice.
Commenting from the ice, Finning lead engineer Spencer Smirl said: “It was a fantastic feeling to see the two machines finally being craned out of the SA Agulhas. My colleague, Richmond Dykes, and I have been running some preliminary tests on the Cat D6Ns while they were in the cargo hold, so we were confident that there wasn’t going to be any problems with them when we finally got them started. Having said that, it still came as a great relief to get the engines fired up so we could start using the machines to assist with the rest of the offloading process.”
“Over the next couple of months we’ll be focusing on preparation for our journey to the South Pole. The Cat D6Ns will play an integral role in this initial groundwork as they are needed to transport fuel over a crevasse field to the area where we will be building our base camp for The Coldest Journey expedition.
We’ll also be testing out the modifications that have been made to the units. They have run smoothly so far, but we have to recognise we’ll be operating the machines in one of the harshest environments on Earth, so we can’t afford to take any chances.
It is estimated that the expedition team will begin their world record attempt – the first ever winter crossing of Antarctica – on March 21st.