Work resumes on Antarctic Wharf

By Andy Brown19 December 2019

A major modernisation programme at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Rothera Research Station has started its second ‘summer season’ of construction with the arrival of a 40-plus person team from BAM.

2019-12-12 Rear Frame on Wharf Installation 5 Copyright BAS

A photo of the wharf installation, courtesy of BAS

Construction work on a new 74m long wharf resumes, and initial groundworks for a new science and operations building begins.

Getting the research station ready to berth the ship the RRS Sir David Attenborough is said to require complex engineering. This season the remaining 14 of the 20 steel frames that form the wharf’s skeleton will be put in place and backfilled with rock.

Wharf enhancements include a crane for easier launching of small science boats, a personnel gangway and a floating pontoon for the deployment of scientific instruments.

Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest and windiest place on Earth. Construction can typically only take place during a short period in the austral summer (November to May).

A key feature of the modernisation programme is to reduce fossil fuel consumption at the station and to introduce more energy efficient systems including heat recovery generators, photovoltaic solar panels and enhanced insulation.

David Seaton, senior infrastructure programme manager at British Antarctic Survey said, “After many months of planning we are looking forward to achieving two key milestones at Rothera. These two projects; the wharf and modernisation are critical to reducing operating costs, improving efficiency and keep the research stations meeting the needs of BAS personnel to facilitate world-leading research for the future.”

The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation programme operates through a partnership model providing key engineering, scientific and construction expertise. This includes technical advisor Ramboll, working alongside BAS’s construction partners BAM and their designers, Sweco.

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