Dec 22: Casey Station

Post by VIMS graduate student Mar Arroyo.

17 – 22 Dec 2016 (66° 17’S, 110° 32’E)

casey_station
Casey Research Station.

Land ho! We reached Casey research station for the refuel and resupply effort. The Aurora is anchored in Newcombe Bay, and passengers are taken to land in inflatable rubber boats (IRBs). Casey is home to roughly 100 people in summer and less than 20 in the winter, mostly consisting of tradespeople who keep the station running smoothly.

The main living quarters at the station is called the Red Shed

mar_bronx
The Bronx, a hall with expeditioner cabins. I grew up in the Bronx in New York! It’s almost like home.

(long red building in the photo above). There are several halls with cabins, but also common entertainment areas like a movie theater, video game corner, and even a bar!

To get fuel to the station, a hose line is run from fuel farms on land to the ship along the water. The mission the year is to pump more than 1 million liters of fuel, setting a record for the most fuel pumped to Casey. The whole refueling operation should take about 40 hours, so long as the weather holds. The ship is not allowed to be anchored in Newcombe Bay if winds exceed 30 knots. Southern winds could drag the ship and its anchor into more shallow waters.

fuel_barge
A barge is used to lay the  fuel hose across the water between the ship and land. © Will Hobbs.

Nearly all expeditioners are involved in the refueling, working 4 hours shifts with 8 hours of rest in between throughout the entire operation. I’m working on an IRB from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM then again from 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM, with water craft operators Zane and Josh. We have to keep the water surrounding fuel line clear of ice and small icebergs.

Resupply began after refueling. Cargo from the ship is lifted by a crane onto a barge sitting in the water below. The barge is driven to shore where another crane lifts the cargo onto a truck. The same, but opposite, is done with cargo that is returning to Hobart. Casey sends back empty fuel barrels, waste, and recycling to Hobart.

irb_mar
Zane, Josh, and I pushing away an iceberg in the IRB. © Amanda Dawson.

Author: David Malmquist

David Malmquist is the Director of Communications at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.