BAM awarded TGP the contract for project logistics management for a shipment of equipment and construction materials to the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station at Rothera Point. Serving as a U.K. hub for polar science, Rothera is located 900 miles south of the tip of South America on Adelaide Island, along the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.
BAM is in charge of removing Rothera Point’s old wharf and building a new one. The facility is to accommodate the U.K.’s new state-of-the-art polar research vessel, RRS Sir David Attenborough.
While Antarctica has the coldest and one of the harshest climates on Earth, it also has unique and sensitive ecosystems that can be threatened by the incursion of non-native species of plants and animals. The biggest logistical challenge facing the TGP team was ensuring the shipment headed for Rothera remained completely contamination-free and in compliance with the British Antarctic Survey Biosecurity Handbook and The Polar Code, which was enacted to minimize the risk of non-native species being introduced to the Antarctic continent.
Another major challenge was no construction equipment or material was available on site in Rothera. TGP worked hand-in-hand with BAM to consolidate, prepare and ship almost all the supplies and equipment necessary for the wharf removal and reconstruction at the research base on a single vessel charter.
Over the course of several weeks in late October and November, a TGP team worked at a specially prepared site to direct all aspects of the decontamination and loading procedures at AV Dawson facilities at Teesport in Teesside, U.K.
The decontamination process for the Rothera shipment was multifaceted and exhaustive. First, the Teesport biosecure facility underwent deep cleaning directly prior to receiving cargo. This specially scheduled cleaning of the facility was conducted in addition to a maintenance schedule of spraying insecticides, pesticides and herbicides in and around the facility on top of the manual inspection for and removal of weeds, rodents, insects and other pests.
Then all cargo intended for the November shipment to Rothera Research Station was inspected upon arrival and washed using ultrahigh-pressure water jets.
“As far as we are aware, this project represents the first time such stringent export procedures have been carried out at a UK port facility,” said TGP CEO Colin Charnock.
The cargo, where deemed necessary, was additionally treated with residual insecticide solutions. All containers and loading equipment underwent fumigation, and only timber compliant with the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 was used for export packing.
The shipment departed from Teesside on Thursday for a 9,600-mile trip to Rothera, a journey estimated to take four to five weeks. The largest pieces were two 300-tonne crawler crane cabs. Overall, 85 containers of cargo were prepared and loaded on board the F-Type multipurpose ship that also underwent a similar decontamination process in accordance with the biosecurity plan implemented by TGP.
During the short Antarctic summer, temperatures typically range between 0 to 5 degrees Celsius. However, it can snow at any time of year and temperatures can vary widely. And there is usually sea ice restricting sea traffic to the continent through to the end of November. But Rothera Research Station is just south of the Antarctic Circle, so both the vessel’s crew and the Rothera team will be able to take advantage of 24 hours of summertime daylight to unload the cargo.