The 2011-12 McMurdo Shipping Season (continued)

the icebreaker Vladimir Ignatyuk at McMurdo, 26 January 2012
The Russian icebreaker Vladimir Ignatyuk working in McMurdo Sound on 26 January 2012 (photo by Steve Royce/USAP photo library--link to original)

tank you very muchThe Russian icebreaker Vladimir Ignatyuk arrived at McM the last week in January (above). And after it did its work, the tanker Maersk Peary showed up on the 27th...tanker unloading at the ice pier (left, a 28 January photo also by Steve Royce from the Antarctic Photo Library (link to original). The tanker was able to use the ice pier, as nothing much heavier than hoses was involved--as you can see in the photo at right from Chris Demarest in the Antarctic Photo Library (link to original). (Here is another of Sven Lidstrom's photos of the tanker which shows the icebreaker working in the background). The tanker offloaded about 6.3 million gallon of fuel, and undocked from the ice pier on 2 February.

blasting the ice pier away from the shore

After the tanker left, the too-thin ice pier had to be moved out of the way to make way for the causeway that the Green Wave was bringing down. Before that could happen, it had to be blasted loose from the shore. This happened on 11 February (above, photo by Carlie Reum); there are two great videos of that event, one is by cook Jason Backlund who was blogging for his hometown paper, the Traverse City Record Eagle. Here's the video, and here is his blog post about the event. And here is another video from the peninsula side, this one posted by John Hills.

The next event, of course, was the arrival of the cargo ship Green Wave on 14 February 2012, and the offloading, construction, and use of the modular causeway system (MCS). I've collected seven pages of photos--a time lapse sequence--starting here. Below are just a few of them:

first pieces
The Green Wave tied up at the relocated ice pier to offload and assemble the causeway components. Here are the first few pieces. (WH)
tugging at things
Assembly of the pier was facilitated by these small vessels called MWT's (modular warping tugs). (SFA)
After the pier was assembled, it was moved to the offloading site. (SFA)
all tied up
And then, the Green Wave moved and tied up to the pier.
Then it was time to start unloading stuff...
crack the hatch
Eventually it was time to open the hatches.
snow cover
And for awhile it was snowing.
little boxes
Almost done unloading! Note the icebreaker in the background. (SFA)
smile, you're on the webcam
And when the unloading was complete on 23 January, it was time out for a hero shot! (331)
Then it was time to reverse the process...load the containers of trash, garbage, ice cores...
Midafternoon on the 24th...almost done!
business is picking up
Time to start taking things apart.
tie one on at McMurdo
Soon there was not much left...
the tug of the Antarctic
...except for MWT-15, seen here nudging the Green Wave away from the shore. (331)
time to shove off
Time to go!
take a bit off the front
But first, time to take that last tug apart...(SFA)
time to shove off
...and load it up. (331)
the bar is open
Mission accomplished! (SFA)

The original schedule called for the recovery of the causeway on the 27th and departure on the 28th. But things happened fast. The ship departed on the afternoon of the 25th!

Again, here's my full 7-page time lapse sequence!

There are a couple of excellent time lapse videos of the ship of them was prepared by the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica (JTF-SFA) and posted on their Facebook page. it should be visible to anyone (although I could not embed it without losing the full-screen and HD options):

Anthony Powell, a New Zealander who has worked in Antarctica for many years in various jobs from IT and Satcom to having an NSF Artists and Writers Grant as a photographer, put together a fantastic video of the 2012 ship offload...this is the HD version from his web site. He said he used 4 Canon SLRs, and a GoPro HD, condensing over 150,000 photos were condensed down to make this video. Not to be missed is his main web site with lots of photo coverage, as well as another of his websites, which describes/includes trailers from his excellent documentary Antarctica: A Year on Ice (the movie includes some of the ship-offload timelapse). There's also a link to his long-running blog. Anthony will be wintering at Scott Base in 2016.

A more technically detailed article of the Army's successful operation, written in part by participant Lt. Bill Battles, can be found here.

Other coverage of ship offload includes this Antarctic Sun article from 2 March 2012, and an April 2012 U.S. Air Force news article.

Credits for the ship offload photos...they were obtained from the McMurdo webcams unless otherwise indicated. Some are from the Operation Deep Freeze (Joint Task Force - Support Forces Antarctica) Facebook page (SFA), the 331 Transportation Company (Causeway) Facebook page, and William Henriksen (WH) from the Antarctic Photo Library.