The Aurora Australis – Commencing Countdown.

First up, I finished the fire training week off with a bit of a twist as I somehow ended up with the role of Fire Chief for the year, not something I was expecting as you’d have gathered from prior posts, surprisingly I hadn’t really had my hand up for it either. I am chuffed though, nice to think that for whatever reason someone trusts me to do the job……Best not speak too soon though eh!

Adam and Alyce were given the deputy fire Chief roles which basically means that any of us can turn out and be in control of an incident, I guess overall though I’ll ensure regular training rosters for the on call teams and make sure it runs OK….Should be an interesting one for the CV!

A few pics from the last bunch of scenarios on Friday:

Found out last night that we’re heading out on the Aurora for a couple of nights comms testing next week. If I hadn’t mentioned before the ‘Aurora Australis’ is the icebreaker ship that is to take all the expeditioners down South, V1 as it’s referred to is the first voyage of the season which we’ll be expecting to board on October 15th if all is going to plan.

Designed as a multi-purpose research and resupply ship, the Aurora was launched in September 1989. The ship is 94.9 metres long and 3911 tonnes in weight, has a cruising speed of 13 knots, and accommodates 116 passengers. It is capable of breaking ice up to 1.23 metres thick. The ship is also fitted with a helipad and hangar facilities for three helicopters.

The Aurora regularly sails across the Southern Ocean where storms can generate 10 metre high seas and winds of 120–150 km/h. The ship has been known to roll up to 45 degrees in big swells. In these situations the angle of the deck is far steeper than any streets in Australia. The Aurora Australis is painted a very bright orange, thus allowing it to be easily seen in ice-strewn waters.

We expect that the ice is fairly thick still so we may take some time to get through being quite early this year, realistically we’re looking at around 12 to 16 days to get to Davis where we will begin with the immediate resupply of the station with everything we take down with us. Resupply should take about 7 days during which time I have to affect a complete hand over with my opposite number who will be returning back to Aus after 14 months on the station….

Myself and Rob need to be on the ship Monday night, all Tuesday and back ashore on Weds morning as the ship was refitted recently and all the comms kit was taken off. This will allow us to test all the systems (BGAN, Iridium and other onboard phone systems etc) to confirm functionality before departure…Quite funny to think there’s three of us going out on a massive ship just for a couple of days sea trials and comms testing. The ship costs approx. $100,000 a day to run so hopefully we don’t run into many issues!

If anyone wants to know the position of the Aurora at any time we can be tracked from here.
Obviously this can go offline at times, when I’m onboard we will have no internet access unless in the event of an emergency as the costs of BGAN usage are high, once I’m travelling we’ll be out of comms (and blog updates) until we arrive…

You can see a selection of the ships photos here.


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