Scott Base Supply Circuit: Science and Machinery, with a Side of Sauce
Scott Base’s annual resupply is underway – among this year’s shipments are pre-engineered science buildings, construction machinery and a snow PistenBully, complete with sled and pontoon skis.
In all, there are 24 containers filled with food, supplies, and equipment. Most of the supplies are delivered by HMNZS Aotearoa and MV Ocean Giant. Both ships left the port of Lyttelton this week for McMurdo Sound and are currently crossing the southern seas.
The annual replenishment is a logistics marathon that takes a team of people months to organize.
The abundance of kai heading for ice cream includes 300 kg of ground beef, 360 kg of canned diced tomatoes, 162 kg of canned sliced beets, as well as 60 liters of tomato sauce.
There was no panic buying of toilet paper, but there are precisely 960 rolls on board.
Custom-built “geomagnetic huts” carried by the Ocean Giant will provide a new home for long-term monitoring of Earth’s geomagnetic field. GNS Science has been making measurements at the Scott Base Geomagnetic Observatory (SBA) since 1958 and is an important contribution to the global network of INTERMAGNET observatories.
The measurements are used for ground-truth satellite observations, to build global reference models of the Earth’s geomagnetic field – information used, for example, in ship navigation and smartphones, and to better understand the interaction between the earth’s magnetic field and energetic particles from the sun.
Director General of Antarctic Operations Simon Trotter says the annual supply run aims to provide almost everything the small Scott Base community will need for the coming year. A small amount of fresh vegetables and fruits are flown in periodically to Scott Base, but the vast majority of supplies arrive in this shipment.
“There’s no pinch at the shops, so everything has to be thought through and prepared – from keeping everyone warm and food, to keeping everyone clean, upkeep, refueling and basal watering.
“This is a fairly complex logistical exercise that requires input from a large number of people, with planning involving operations, science, engineering and Scott base redevelopment teams.
This is a New Zealand and international collaboration, achieved through very important relationships and partnerships with the New Zealand Defense Force and the United States Antarctic Program. Antarctica New Zealand is allocated space on the US-chartered MV Ocean Giant as part of the joint logistics pool. This year, 65 members of the New Zealand Defense Force have been flown south to help unload cargo, a huge task that can take up to 10 days of round-the-clock operations.
Ships do not return empty. Anything no longer fit for purpose, disused equipment, waste and garbage is packed into containers and sent home.
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