Hutton goes to the Antarctic - Voyage 2 (3307), along with the Fuel Rats and Canonn Interstellar

A pic of their first "berg" spotted - from the 15th Jan:

And for those that were following the last journey where they were lobbing probes off the back of the Aurora (and recovering others) to detect whale sounds, the data that came back has now been put to use, and along with information from other countries, published in Nature magazine:

Incredible that not only was a little bit of the nonsense that we get up to here, and a Hutton Mug involved in all of this along with one of our own Truckers, that the Mug, and donated items from the Fuel Rats and Canonn are taking part in the various expeditions and raising some great money for charity.
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Sunday Update:
Food's still good. Whales refuse to come for tea and biscuits. Bergs getting thicker (9/10 on the scale).

Message from on-board:
"Today, calmer seas as we distance ourselves from the series of westerly cold fronts passing above us and approach the edge of the sea ice. Resupply planning continues in earnest with the finalisation of workgroup rosters, operational planning documents and equipment checks. Briefings were conducted with ship's crew on the local operating area around Casey and some of the AAD's environmental protocols. Further briefings were held with AAD expeditioners regarding the resupply operational plan, concept of operations for the coming week and tomorrow's draft operations plan. All looking good on paper, their practicality remains contingent on weather, our arrival time (sea ice remaining an important variable), and considerations at station. Fortunately the team there are professionals at this game and we near station with a high degree of confidence of everyone's capacity to adapt as required.

Station has a reduced number of expeditioners, field and aviation activities this year, due to the organisation's response to COVID-19. Whilst there maybe be a reduced operational tempo on station, the actual workload at Casey has in some respects increased, with a reduced station contingent busy maintaining general station function, undertaking a multitude of infrastructure projects and, more recently preparing for the annual resupply.

And now, some observations from Dave (WA), one of the Casey bound expeditioners on board:

'I've been told this has been an exceptionally smooth ride to Casey. I wouldn't know better as it's my first time south - I'm just pleased not to feel seasick. More so even because of the exceptional food served up three times daily which I'd hate to miss. Stair climbs are useful to work off dessert; cabin to pantry, pantry to bridge, bridge to mess, mess to cabin. Repeat.

The Everest crew have helped keep us entertained too, with tours of the engine rooms and the dive chambers that I think everyone agreed, were exceptional. Additional entertainment was found above deck by three Sei whales spotted recently amongst a smattering of icebergs drifting north. Sadly, they declined our invite for tea and biscuits, possibly because they didn't recognize the new ship.'


James, Jenn and Andy "


Following that report - they've now arrived to commence Fuel Rat operations:

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Monday's message from Casey:

"Greetings from Newcomb Bay. We arrived off Casey station approximately 2 hours ago after a 24 hour period spent carefully threading our way through sea ice. The excitement was palpable as the ship glided through calming waters, the sea and sky varying shades of dark and bright light blue. By mid-afternoon the long sliver of white horizon had crept forward, its islands of ice floes slowly embracing the vessel, the MPV Everest's first kiss of Antarctic ice. Early this morning as our passage continued the VHF console on the ship crackled into life with a welcome greeting from VNJ Casey (the station's comms desk). After an extended period of silence we were re-connected with station. For the crew, many of whom are experienced in Arctic and Antarctic ice, it presented few challenges but a valuable proving run for the ship in navigable sea ice.

This afternoon we are planning a limited start to cargo operations. Beginning with a toolbox briefing on station between our watercraft team and the Casey wharf crew, our teams will then refuel one of the barges and, time permitting, undertake a limited series of barge runs.


James, Jenn and Andy "

The Truckin' Element of the trip has started - unloading all the rares!
Next - on to the Fuel Rat bit and maybe some of the Canonn Tinfoilhattery
WIth CMDR Dgosbreath, as one of the most experienced Truckers aboard the Everest busy with unloading operations, duty has fallen on James to post today's update:

"Cargo operations are proceeding at Casey this afternoon following a delay in the morning due to wind speeds above the operating threshold of our watercraft. With winds subsiding late in the morning we were able to mobilise first one and then both barges. Settling into a steady rhythm of cargo discharge here on the ship we are beginning to identify timeframes for core cargo activities. On the Aurora these had become known quantities over the years, and now on the MPV Everest must be revisited. Time required for an IRB (rigid inflatable boat) or barge to be unloaded, time required for crew alternating between lifting gear and cranes; the latter involving crew movements across an expansive decks space, time lost and gained (in terms of cargo loads) for using two barges instead of one, time required at end of day to lash the watercraft aboard the ship in anticipation of poor weather etc. Factoring into this the parameters of the stow plan required to convey the cargo from Australia on the ship, the discharge priorities for station and the disparate fatigue management guidelines informing rosters for respective work groups..along with a multi-national crew and different organisational approaches and processes, the operation is not without its fair share of moving parts. As the operation evolves on board so we continue to evolve our planning and communication processes to maintain safety and improve efficiency.

The station wharf team has been impressive and patient throughout this first almost full day of cargo operations. So too has our team of watercraft operators and our DVL Jenn, adapting quickly to the task with good humour.

A good weather forecast for tomorrow to provide a full day to properly bed down our processes would be welcome.



As with any change of ship, takes a bit of time to get used to the new controls, the position of the cargo hatch in relation to the large hardpoint and of course, how not to boop icesteroids with your nose whilst scooping!
Wednesday Update: Email comms are still "down" and the on board tech team are working to try and revive them. Cargo loading and unloading operations have moved into full swing and the little limpets are doing their thang.

"Today with a sea mist and overcast conditions atop calm waters, we were able to commence our first full day of cargo operations using a single barge. It is quite extraordinary to watch how quickly both the AAD and MPV Everest workgroups have integrated their work routines with many of the lessons learned from the preceding half days well and truly institutionalised. By afternoon the clouds had lifted revealing a glimmering sea and a coastline littered with grounded icebergs of all shapes and sizes. This afternoon, cargo operations are continuing and we have just welcomed back aboard our DVL Jenn and the MPV Everest's chief mate following their onshore inspection of 'Return To Australia' (RTA) cargo in anticipation of back loading operations in the days to come.

The AAD is continuing to work through our email connectivity issues. I can assure you that besides the various and ongoing challenges associated with maintaining reliable connectivity, we are all in good health and spirits, enjoying a productive day of cargo operations in this uniquely beautiful part of the world.


James, Jenn and Andy."
Cargo operations are COMPLETE - now for the tricky bit - the actual Fuel Rat operation - getting fuel from a floating vessel to the land base without spilling a drop....

Message from on-board:
"Yesterday's ship>station cargo operation was concluded under brilliant blue skies with smiles all around, deck crew and watercraft operators equally satisfied with a day of safe and productive activity on board. Spirits were further lifted when the VSAT system spluttered into life, bathing the ship in network connectivity allowing us to reach across the ocean and touch home.

Today, very mild winds and calm waters have enabled us to proceed on with our discharge of Casey bound cargo. Since this morning, a steady stream of 20 foot containers have been conveyed to the station's wharf by our barge the 'Peter Gormly' crewed by watercraft operators. Once at the wharf its been raised by crane and transported up a dusty track into station, all under the watchful gaze of the station's beach master and shore crew, their cargo teams, supply officers, plant operators and resupply supervisors. From the bridge, our deputy voyage leader (DVL) Jenn stands with her radios and discharge plans, exchanging information with the watercraft team out on the water and the ship's officer of the watch who liaises with the ship's bosun and deck crew out on the main deck. Beside Jenn, our refuel officer Jeff who has dutifully compiled a running list of the timings of each aspect of the operation – information that once compiled helps inform our planning of the coming days and may also inform operational planning and needs analysis for the good ship Nuyina. Further above us is cast the watchful gaze of the Bureau of Meteorology's forecasters and observers, whose analysis of forecast models, weathers observations and data received from automatic weather station is critical for our operation.

Meanwhile on the office deck, our watercraft and refuel supervisors plot and plan with station counterparts our next move.... Station refuel. All whilst the ship holds its position, its crew keeping us afloat, steady, fed, warm, clean and fully operational.


James, Jenn and Andy."
Cargo operations are COMPLETE - now for the tricky bit - the actual Fuel Rat operation - getting fuel from a floating vessel to the land base without spilling a drop....

No need to sweat it - according to her spec sheet, Everest is equipped for oil recovery 🤔.

No, seriously - good luck with it. There's really no need to make a mess in the Antarctic.
With the MPV Everest now in close proximity to Casey - they've managed to get their e-mail comms up and running, so we have photos and answers to a few of the early Q&A:

From CMDR Dogsbreath (complete with Fuel Rat Mug):
We are now out of COVID Amber both on board and on the station so can sit side by side in the same boat. Refuelling can now commence! Hopefully some pics of the various aspects can follow…

We had a tour of the saturation dive facility on board, one of the top 5 in the world up to 18 divers living at 300m below the surface, breathing 1% oxygen and a lot of helium, with very squeaky voices for 28 days! Makes even the sidewinder look roomy!


That Helipad looks "precarious" up there, with no access to a hangar or obvious way for loading/unloading operations to be performed. Can you tell us more about helicopter operations on/from the vessel?

We take safety seriously, until it comes time for the captains morning stroll. No guard rail, about 26m above sea level and all are encouraged to do laps and get some fresh air. I’m sure it’s all a conspiracy to trip me up and give me a nudge. They’re just lulling me into a false sense of security!

The helipad is designed for passenger transfers. It’s probably the only poorly designed bit on the ship from my perspective. No crane can reach it, It puts a big sail right out front of the ship, adds a load of weight up front which loads up the hull in swells, and is not removable. It only gets used for passenger transfers.

Reading the sitreps - Can you introduce us to the onboard "fuel rat team" - we notice that one of them appears to be on ice lookout.

Fuel Rat mug goes visiting one of the hyperbaric chambers:


Our fuel rats are Brad, Jeff and Bloo. More to come!

The meals - we've had a comment that the Gnosis Avian Cheese (lifetime supply) is like Dwarf Bread as described by Pratchett:

"The dwarf bread was brought out for inspection. But it was miraculous, the dwarf bread. No one ever went hungry when they had some dwarf bread to avoid. You only had to look at it for a moment, and instantly you could think of dozens of things you'd rather eat. Your boots, for example. Mountains. Raw sheep. Your own foot."

The food is pretty good. As with most modern ships this one is registered in a ‘port of convenience’, it lets them employ cheap labour. We have a contingent of Indonesian and Asian deck and galley crew. Every meal includes one Indonesian, Indian and European course. We are getting very fat! Fortunately the galley is at water lever and there are 6 decks and 12 flights of stairs in between so those who work on the bridge are getting thin!

The sitreps seem to imply that the food is... "interesting" - do you have a chef on board? What are the meals REALLY like?

About 4 cooks, including a pastry cook. Never call a ships cook a chef, they will be offended! Anyone can be a chef. Chefs work in kitchens that don’t move and can use scales to weigh everything. Cooks work in a rolling tipping galley where weigh scale go up and down with the ocean and everything is measured by scoops, cups, spoons and of course eye!

How many expeditioners are there on board? Canonn is interested to hear about any science that's going on during this voyage, or will be going on down in the frozen south.

You think the Elite control bindings are complex???

Numbers, more pics and science to follow…

Today's Sitrep - they've made contact with "native life forms" at Casey (ok, penguins):

"Overnight winds obligingly subsided this morning, allowing us to recommence cargo operations. Around 85% of station bound cargo has been received, and we are now simultaneously back-loading 'return to Australia' (RTA) cargo.

This afternoon, station and ship based watercraft operators conducted practical training for those expeditioners involved in the over-water refuel monitoring. When the time comes, those rostered souls will don mustang suits and man several rigid inflatable boats on a 4 hour on / 8 hour off roster for the duration of the refuel operation. Their job will be to patrol up and down the length of the fuel hose, monitoring it for any signs of damage and protecting it from wayward ice floes that might drift up against the fuel line. Day and 'night' ,come sun or come wind and snow, it requires good humour, physical strength and familiarity both with the handling of anchors, ropes and buoys and of the environment they are exposed to. This afternoon the teams were able to develop this, as well as to gain a preview into what works best for them from a clothing and preparation standpoint so that when refuelling begins they will be ready.

Also out on the water this afternoon were members of the ship's crew who took up the offer of a tour by our watercraft operators around the local area and onto the shore point at station. Whilst not visiting station itself, the crews were able to stretch their legs on the continent of Antarctica, throw a snowball (of sorts), wave to the Casey expeditioners and snap a photo or two of a curious penguin. "
Fuel rat operations have commenced. 700,000 litres of fuel have already gone ashore thanks to the epic onboard Fuel Rats and their Penguin overseers:

caseyfuel2 (Small).jpg

This morning, our refuel team in collaboration with ship's crew, watercraft operators and station refuel teams undertook the deployment of the fuel hose from station to the ship. From the station's tanks the hose winds its way down to the shore line and into the water. Using the barge along with several rigid inflatable boats (IRBs), the teams deployed the hose and its associated anchor points along a mapped path away from shorelines, islands and reefs across the bay and up onto its connection point on the ship.

This being the first ship to station refuel operation involving the MPV Everest, the ship's crew and our own teams have been characteristically methodical in their planning and protocol for the activity. As this is written, we are undertaking final tests prior to commencing the fuel pumping. Once begun, and after a few tank readings we will be in a better position to determine the expected length of time the fuel pumping will take. Latest forecasts suggest an accommodating weather window for at least the next few days. As always, we and our colleagues at the Bureau of Meteorology will be keeping a careful watch.
caseyfuel1 (Small).jpg

Ship to station fuel transfer commenced yesterday afternoon following attachment of the fuel hose to the ship, and after thorough testing had been completed. As of 1500hs this afternoon a total of 700,000lts of fuel has been transferred to station. At the present flow rate we anticipate the transfer could be completed by early morning tomorrow. We have been very fortunate with both weather and sea ice conditions. Currently the rigid inflatable boat teams out monitoring the fuel line are sitting atop a still blue sea, with only the odd smaller ice floe to occupy them. Whilst we can hope current conditions may prevail, we anticipate a moderate increase in winds this afternoon/evening. The monitoring teams on the ship, on the water and at station have fulfilled their roles very well, and we're grateful to them and to our refuel team and ship's engineers for continuing to manage the operation safely and efficiently.

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For those of us on monitoring shifts overnight, we were treated to the spectacle of both sunset and sunrise illuminating the icebergs and low hanging cloud north of station in vivid white, orange and reds against the backdrop of a sky cast in soft pink and purple hues. Watching this spectacle from the port-side bridge against a backdrop of radio chatter, the dark line of the fuel hose winding across the bay and the silhouette of boat teams huddled against the cold was a reminder of how unique this environment is, as is the collective effort required to remain here.
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