Captains' Log: Davis station refuelling

Paul (left) got involved in the Davis station refuelling effort. (Photo: Mark Horstman)

22 November 2019

Captain Clarke participates in the Davis research station refuelling.

After a fairly straightforward passage through the sea ice, we arrived at the edge of the fast ice on 7th November, about six kilometres from Davis research station. 

After a night of backing and ramming, the decision was made to stop for a few hours to fly off the helicopters, carrying some personnel and sling loaded priority cargo. Once complete, Captain Gerry O and his team continued ramming through the ice until we arrived in position for the resupply, just under two kilometres from the station.

For me, personally, it was fantastic to be back on the Antarctic continent. It is certainly a place that everyone who has been here would agree, leaves a lasting impression. 

Refuelling Davis station is a critical part of the ship’s visit each season, and so I spent a few days tagging along with the refuelling team of Brad Collins and Jeff Miller. This process won’t change much with the Nuyina, it will just be pumped ashore from a different ship. 

The station requires about 750,000 litres of SAB (Special Antarctic Blend) diesel. The fuel hose is towed from near the bow of the ship across the two kilometres of fast ice using a Hagglunds or a ute, then connected to a shore line which runs up the hill to the tank farm.

Once all the connections are made, checklists completed, and the monitoring team is in place, the hose is leak tested using air. Once the fuel transfer begins, people do four hour shifts, checking fuel levels in the station’s tanks, watching the shore connection point, and walking the hose checking for leaks (this is where I was). Leak checks are also made on the ship at the manifold, bridge and engine control room.  

Walking the hose involved a lot of Adélie penguin encounters as they are constantly wandering around on the ice. 

Twenty four hours later, with a successful fuel transfer complete, everything was packed away, ready for the next fuel transfer at Casey.

I have seen a lot of people taking photos of stuffed toys belonging to their children. I have two from my daughters, and they like to pop up in the odd photograph. ‘Mato’ has been all over the world and is pretty relaxed about travelling. ‘Tigrey’ is quite excited to see penguins.

Paul at the Davis signpost with the flags are the Australian flag and the P&O flag, in honour of the Aurora Australis, in the background. (Photo: Paul Clarke)

The Aurora Australis enters Prydz Bay. (Photo: A. Hardwick and S. Payne)

Adelie penguins on Gardner Island. (Photo: Paul Clarke)

Tigrey joins seasoned traveller, Mato, in their first Antarctic experience. (Photo: Paul Clarke)