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

Antarctic Refuel Operation is COMPLETE. A lovely gallery of Canonn Interstellar and Fuel Rats mugs that went ashore for refuel operations (and nearly got stolen by the Penguin Overseer).
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There's some MEAN weather heading their way 50-100kt winds, so the team on board the MPV Everest nabbed some shots from shore for Canonn and The Fuel Rats and have had to scarper in double quick time ready to reload and then get to their next resupply operation:

"This morning the run of mild weather that had enabled us to complete ship to station refuelling and consecutive days of cargo operations came to an end. Anticipating increasing winds during the morning, our ship's crew, watercraft operators and station teams commenced RTA cargo operations this morning a little after 0800hs. Forecast winds from the East were thought to carry the potential of generating a rapid increase in winds in Newcomb bay disrupting watercraft operations. Regular communications from the bridge to station and to the station's bureau of meteorology staff allowed a running commentary of current and anticipated weather conditions, supplemented by the keen eyes of a number of experienced expeditioners on the bridge keeping a watch on the wind speed averages and surface definition. Before mid-morning, despite 10 minute wind averages remaining low on the water, an increase in local area wind speeds, >25kt wind gusts recorded from the ship, and reducing surface definition on the moraine line informed a conservative decision to suspend boating operations and review the option to stay in Newcomb Bay or depart for Hobart.

By mid-afternoon and with careful consideration of factors including outstanding RTA cargo remaining on station, the condition of sea ice, current route and local area forecasts, a determination was made to conclude resupply operations and depart for Tasmania. At present, the outline of station buildings is gradually receding into a backdrop of dark rock and snow white coastline on an ocean of whitecaps and snow flurries.

The abrupt departure of the ship from Casey this afternoon curtailed our ability to say our goodbyes and thank them for their outstanding efforts in preparing for, and conducting this resupply. Despite the challenges of significantly reduced station numbers, the complexities associated with undertaking resupply activities in accordance with COVID-19 protocols and technical communications issues, the station community under the leadership of Kyle and Dave, maintained their sense of humour and professionalism. We wish the expeditioners at Casey all the very best for a rewarding and safe winter season.

On behalf of our voyage supervisory team we would like to sincerely thank the Master and crew of the MPV Everest, our roundtrip expeditioners aboard the ship, and all on station and in Kingston, Tasmania for their efforts to ensure this resupply was safe and productive.

James, Jenn and Andy."
As they're on the return journey now - they've asked that we email over some questions for the on-board "Fuel Rat" team if we've got them - whether it be about refuelling operations, life on board the ship or down in the Antarctic etc

Feel free to post here and we'll collate and relay them over.

Thursday Update
This afternoon at 1300hs, the MPV Everest sailed out of the Northern edge of the ice pack after an overnight transit. Yesterday afternoon and overnight, access was granted to the bridge deck where many of us were treated to the impressive spectacle of ice bergs, whales, orcas, snow petrels and an array of penguins and seals dotted upon the concentrations of sea ice that we navigated through at slow speed. For many of the expeditioners aboard the ship this is their first experience transiting from the continent and the diversity of the wildlife off the bow of the ship is a delight to behold, particularly after a southbound voyage that was almost devoid of wildlife.

Having left the 'shelter' of the sea ice, increasingly concentrated due to the recent winds, we find ourselves now back upon the swells of the Southern Ocean with waves expected to increase to approximately 6 metres – a relatively gentle reminder to ensure personal belongings and work stations are properly stowed.

Group exercise sessions, movie viewings and tours of the dive apparatus aboard the vessel are being conducted, whilst others catch up on sleep and personal admin after what has been a quite intensive period of operations.

Friday Update
Last night, expeditioners were treated to a presentation by Bloo, (one of the members of our refuel team) and his adventures around Mt Brown in East Antarctica. A quiet ship today with sea conditions overnight leading to a disturbed sleep for many, compounded by an emergency muster conducted this morning at approximately 0700hs with all expeditioners and crew accounted for. Now well and truly in the open ocean, all but a few hardy icebergs have receded astern as we continue our passage North East.

Saturday Update
Today we enjoyed glimpses of blue sky and sunshine for the first time in several days. A reduction in ocean swells has granted a reprieve in the rolling motion aboard the ship that had thinned out the queue at mealtimes and sent a few poor souls to their cabin for the duration. Pleasing to see some colour returning to their faces today. Voyage 1 reporting writing and administrative duties are ongoing at pace whilst shipboard planning and preparations for V2 continues, bolstered by the addition of expeditioners from Casey who now adopt their shipboard roles for V2.
What I was wondering when I saw the picture - in one of the pictures, they have this floating shoebox (I really hesitate to call it a "boat") with the container with the fuel hose. Does the hose "belong" to the ship or to the station? And if it belongs to the station - how do they get it onto that shoebox? (assuming that shoebox is part of Everest's equipment)

Oh, and second question: If those rusty cans in a few of the pictures actually are the fuel tanks (as indicated by the safety signs so prominently displayed as background of the rat mug) - no fear that they might corrode through and necessitate the use of mops and buckets?

Final question for today: I had been driving a diesel car for some time in the past, and I've heard that the bunker oil that is (was?) widely used for ships would be considered a solid by a layman under ordinary conditions - what kind of fuel do they actually use for the station that they can pump it through those hoses (and get it out of the tanks, which don't seem to be heated) through a freezing ocean (and would expect during winter)? Heck, even my Weber grill has trouble with the propane in a cold January, and that's in central Europe.
As they're on the return journey now - they've asked that we email over some questions for the on-board "Fuel Rat" team if we've got them - whether it be about refuelling operations, life on board the ship or down in the Antarctic etc

Q1) If one part of your body had to be made out of ice (with all the associated difficulties that entails re: keeping it frozen or otherwise losing it for ever) which part would you choose?

Q2) Could you tell us a little bit about the fuel management of the ship. How much fuel does the ship carry, how far can the ship travel on that amount, and how far are you from a refuelling depot? Also ... is it possible to emergency refuel a ship like that (e.g. via helicopter or rescue boat ... has it ever happened?).

Q3) Richard Dawkins once claimed to have seen two dogs doing a 69. What's the worst lie you've ever told to impress someone?
Having arrived safely home to Hobart, Tasmania to reload, the MPV Everest is setting sail for part 2 of the mission - to refuel Davis and Mawson bases!


Will be bringing you updates as they make the journey and maybe even some more photographs. These are the continuing voyages of Commander Dogsbreath and his Canonn and Fuel Rats goodies for charity. His mission, to seek out bases in need of fuel and supplies and to boldly go where he hasn't gone for at least a few weeks. THE ANTARCTIC.
Dang, that Everest class needs a shipkit and a chrome paintjob 😂

And I wonder if Dogsbreath and the others got somehow extorted into this whole endeavour? Do they have mining equipment on board by chance? 😜
The MPV Everest has arrived at its next stop:


As the sun rose this morning we commenced our final approaches to Davis. The Everest Master, with the assistance of his Officers, skilfully navigated the vessel through the bergs that lined our pathway forward and between Gardner and Anchorage into the harbor. Outside the decks were a hive of activity. Rugged up expeditioners stepped outside into the cold, and windy conditions armed with their cameras, to capture the passing bergs, Adelie penguins perched on bergy bits and their first glimpse of the continent known as the Great White Hell.

At around 0800 the distinctive colouration of the Davis landform came into view. At 08:50 the MPV Everest was anchored at the Davis Anchorage. However, upon our arrival the winds were ~ 30 knots and too high to allow operations to commence. Early afternoon, after feasting on turkey, the winds had dropped to allow us to commence. The small inflatable boats (IRBs) were lowered from the deck onto the water. Thus marked the start of the Davis Station Resupply Operations for the 2020/21 Season.

This afternoon the plan is to transfer the six Helicopter Resources Team members ashore, where they will recommission the two helicopters that wintered at Davis. The Beach Master, along with the resupply officer, will also go ashore this afternoon to assess the wharf area, in readiness for tomorrow's planned cargo operations.

REGARDS: Andy, Jenn and Lauren


Late yesterday afternoon some happiness was sent ashore in the form of the highly valued mail bags. All on board and ashore are very grateful to the Everest crew who, upon request from Voyage Management, located the bags. After 15 months on the ice this is the first mail the team at Davis has received.

This morning we were greeted To blue skies and sunshine, the kind of weather you would expect from an area that is called the Riviera of the South. Today's weather has provided us with ideal boating conditions for what has been coined the Davis Regatta Day. This morning the Bill Budd Barge and small boats from the ship and station were launched on the water, seven boats in all. The purpose of the regatta Day is to train Mawson and Davis expeditioners to assist in the refuel operation. Our highest priority this morning was to get 8 personnel ashore who would form the wharf team for cargo operations. While this was occurred a further 9 expeditioners were transferred to the small boats to commence on water training.

Whilst the small boats zipped around the water in training mode, the barge after transferring the personnel the wharf in the morning, began cargo operations. The first cargo run of the day was the refuelling equipment. This was met ashore by the refuelling team that had come ashore earlier in the day. The refuelling team will now spend the remainder of the day setting up the shore side in readiness for a weather window to open to allow the transfer. Tonight on station, the refuelling supervisor will brief the expeditioners in readiness for when we undertake the refuelling operation. As this is being written we are now in the swing of cargo operations. The ship's 250 tonne starboard crane is lowering ½ height containers of aviation fuel to the barge which are then taken ashore to the Davis team.

Tomorrow the plan is to continue the second of the watercraft training for expeditioners and to send 2021 Wintering Davis expeditioners in to their new home.

REGARDS: Andy, Jenn and Lauren


Today's operations commenced with the transfer of 10 expeditioners from the ship to the small boats for the second of the watercraft training sessions. It was then time to fire up the 50 tonne crane, attach the Billy Pugh and transfer personnel to the barge. The first barge load of expeditioners to experience the Billy Pugh ride were those Mawson personnel who have gone ashore to assist with the resupply operations. The senior crane operator on board manoeuvred the Billy Pugh quickly and efficiently, transferring all 14 from the main deck to the barge in the blink of an eye. Once the barge returned to the ship it was time for us to farewell the Davis Wintering Team. Again the crane operator transferred another 14 personnel to the barge, keeping everyone's feet dry. As the barge pulled way we waved them goodbye as they headed towards their new home.

Meanwhile cargo operations were underway using the second barge. The first cargo ashore this morning were the 11 bulka bags containing the incoming expeditioner luggage. After this load it was time to switch back to the 250 tonne crane to continue with the discharge of containerised cargo. It was a somewhat slower morning owing to the requirement to remove a few drums from the half height containers containing aviation fuel. This lowered the container weight, allowing the station wharf crane to safely lift the container with the remaining drums, from the barge and onto one of the waiting vehicles to be transported to station. This afternoon we continue with the discharge of priority containers from the ship to station.

Whilst station tonight will be a hum of voices and sounds, as the numbers on station increased substantially, the ship will feel like a ghost town. We sailed south with 74 expeditioners, and tonight there will be only 25 of us along with the ship's crew left on board.

REGARDS: Andy, Jenn and Lauren
On tonight's Hutton Orbital Live we have a transcript of an interview with the resident head Fuel Rat on board, answering all the questions you sent in to them. Yes. All of them. Even the silly ones.
Updates on "Fuel Ratting" operations in the Antarctic:

Hutton Cargo operations - "Ice Planet" style:


This morning the decks of the Everest were blanketed with a dusting of snow, which continued to fall throughout the day. This did not hamper today's mission - A day totally dedicated to 2 barges and the movement of cargo from the ship to station. Like yesterday, there were some tricky loads which slowed us down. This included cargo listed on the manifest as "nested containers". This terminology referred to two 10 foot shipping containers which are connected by what is known as a joiner. This joiner needed to be removed to allow the lifted weight of the container unit to meet the safe working limit of the wharf crane. The Everest deck crew swiftly removed the joiners, before lowering each unit on the barge ready for transfer to station.

Our counterparts on station continue to receive the cargo we send ashore, moving it from the wharf to its respective laydown area for unpacking or storage for a later date. The Helicopter Resources Team have been hard at work with reports from station indicated that the commissioning of their machines is proceeding well. The helicopters will then undergo a test flight prior to coming to the ship, where they will be placed in specially designed containers for transport. With unfavourable weather on the way these test flights will now occur some stage in the following week.

Tomorrow we will discharge the remaining cargo for Davis, with the exception of the front end loader that requires the tides to be just right. The Davis and Mawson welders on board will also begin moving their equipment onto the main deck tomorrow, as we begin to prepare the area required to land the helicopters on.

REGARDS: Andy, Jenn and Lauren


There was no stooging around today with action on all fronts. Conditions on the water today were ideal for boating operations, with very minimal wind and blue skies. These conditions not only allowed the barge to continue movement of cargo to shore, but also permitted us to support a small boating trip to Long Fjord to support a station science project. This trip was to determine an appropriate location for the deployment of a piece of acoustic equipment, which will be used to monitor seal movements in the area.

From the bridge of the ship we watched the helicopters conduct their test flights, the sound of the machines in the air indicating they had been successfully awoken from their slumber. On the main deck the ingoing Davis and Mawson boil maker/welders, along with their team of helpers began removing, the container feet in readiness to receive the helicopters later next week. The team are making good progress on this job.

As we write the DVL and the MPV Everest Chief Officer are currently ashore inspecting the Return to Australia, RTA, cargo. On completion of today we will only have the front end loader for Davis, and the cargo destined for Mawson left off the ship. Ove the coming days the weather is looking unfavourable for back loading the ship with RTA cargo and for refuelling. And so the saying "Hurry up and wait" begins.

REGARDS: Andy, Jenn and Lauren

SRV Deployment Image:
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The latest updates from on board the MPV Everest - the team have been going about with their camera and the Fuel Rats/Canonn goodies that they've got on board to give us an idea of what they've been up to - weather's been a little grey, so no spectacular sunny pics yet - but here goes:

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Summary reports from the last week - and YES, they did manage to sneak the Fuel Rats motto into the official daily reports (the eagle eyed amongst you should spot it)

What started as quiet day under grey, overcast skies has transformed into a hive of activity. Wind speeds up above the 30 knot mark prevented us from conducting any boating and cargo operations this morning. These conditions did not stop the hard working team assigned to remove container feet from continuing on with this task. By lunch time they had grinded back, and cleaned up the starboard side of deck where the feet once were. The Everest deck crew then repainted the deck where the feet had been.

By mid-morning the winds had started to ease. A glimmer of hope to recommence on water operations and start on the back loading the cargo from station was looking possible. At noon the call was made to have the Bill Budd barge on the water for a 13:00 start. This time would also signify when we would say farewell to our last ingoing Davis wintering expeditioner, one of our handy boilermakers. He, along with the Mawson boilermaker have been integral in preparing the main deck of the ship to receive the helicopters. At around 13:00, as the "hot" deck team started removing the final two container feet on the port side and grinding back the deck, the barge departed from the ship for shore. As the barge made its way to shore the IRB collected our first visitor from station, who had come to do some work around fitting the ramps.

We now carefully monitor the winds to ensure they remain within the parameters for cargo operations.

The weather gods yesterday afternoon decided that they didn't want to play nice. By 15:30 we had ceased cargo operations and placed the barge back onto the ship after only two barge loads of RTA (return to Australia) cargo. It became apparent that the winds did not want to ease for the remainder of the day.

The late afternoon forecast yesterday indicated a potential weather window in the afternoon today, the voyage management team set about developing an ambitious plan. This morning it became apparent that maybe it was a little bit too ambitious. The winds again hampering putting the barge and small boats on the water. While we waited the ship's deck crew played container Tetris, repositioning the containers in preparation for refuelling and in readiness for Mawson. Up on the bridge the crew lifted the anchor and manoeuvred the ship closer to shore, the aim being to decrease the barge run distance and make use of the lower wind speeds closer to shore. We are now sitting on the ships DP (dynamic positioning) which uses electric thrusters to hold the ship in position with out moving.

Around midday the winds had dropped away and we were within operational parameters. At 12:45 Barge 2 was lowered into the water and just like that we were underway again, ferrying containers from the wharf back to the ship. About an hour and half later Barge 1 joined in the fun and the back loading of RTA was in full swing. Out on the deck the helicopter pilots, engineer, Everest Master and the Voyage Leader inspected the area which had been prepared for the helicopters. With both barges on the water the working party on the deck continued to clean up the remaining steel work on the deck from previous contracts that needed to be ground back.

We are now so late in the season that there are 8 hours of darkness each night. In preparation for the 24 hour refuelling operation, we will be testing how well the area where the fuel line will run between ship and shore can be lit to enable night operations. Watercraft operators will also test the use of night vision goggles in readiness for this operation which will occur in the coming days, weather pending of course!

Yesterday's slow start ended on a high note with the successful back loading of 122 tonnes of Return to Australia cargo. For those that like statistics, here are a few from yesterday: 2 barges, 25 barges loads of RTA cargo, 2 IRBs of small loads and fastest barge cargo round trip (shore to ship and back to shore) around 16 minutes. Cargo operations closed for the day at 2100. However, there was one additional task which we needed to complete before the close of play for the day. Before midnight the voyage leader, watercraft coordinator and refuelling supervisor convened on the bridge. Whilst at the Davis wharf a couple of watercraft operators along with some eager helpers lit up the wharf area the Everest crew lit up the ship and we tested the use of the night vision goggles. We now have everything in place for conducting refuelling in the dark.

This morning we knew the winds were not in the operating parameters for cargo or refuelling. The forecast however indicated a window in the afternoon and into tomorrow to allow for refuelling operations. Personnel had been put on standby from this morning to ensure adequate rest prior to starting the roster. The winds had other ideas and by mid-afternoon it was apparent that refuelling would not happen. As the winds eased we turned to our efforts to back to RTA cargo and as this is written the first barge is currently alongside the Everest awaiting to be discharged. The weather for the coming days has high winds forecasted, so we will sit and wait for the better conditions.

All is quiet on board today as the weather continues to inhibit our ability to continue with resupply operations with winds currently around 35 knots and peaking in the high 40's. Below deck expeditioners and crew alike are taking well earnt rest, preparing themselves for the task of refuelling and the remaining items of cargo, which includes the wheeled front end loader.

While our ambitious operation's plan yesterday did not go the way we had intended as the winds refused to follow the forecast, we still achieved cargo and passenger movements when they finally dropped below operating parameters. By the end of the operational day yesterday we had back loaded another 31 tonnes of cargo to the vessel. We now wait for the next weather window which will allow us to conduct refuelling, bring the helicopters to the ship; discharge the loader from the ship, backload the last of the cargo from station and transfer the 73rd ANARE Davis Team and the Mawson personnel assisting with shore side resupply to the ship for the next part of the voyage ... Mawson.

After yesterday's day of rest, due to high winds, today's forecast indicated that the stars were to align in the afternoon and allow us to recommence operations. An ambitious plan had been made the night before to bring the two helicopters back to the ship, discharge the excavator ... we mean the front end loader and welcome 11 Davis winterers aboard.

By mid-morning the ship was buzzing with energy as briefings were held for both the discharge of the loader and the landing of the helicopters on the aft of the main deck. The Helicopter Resources Team along with our Comms Operator returned to the ship via small boat for the required briefing and to sign off on the required risk assessment, tool box meetings and permits which would allow them to land on the deck. While all this was occurring the watercraft operators were busy preparing the IRBs and barges for the loader discharge. At midday both barges were tied up alongside the vessel. With the main deck clear and the pilots back ashore we were ready to receive the helicopters. At 13:15 we had the first helicopter on the ship after its short trip from shore to ship. The Helicopter Resource Team then removed the blades and with the help of the Everest Deck crew moved the helicopter into its transport container. At around 14:30 the second helicopter arrived on the deck and like its counterpart had its blades removed and was put to bed.

We then turned our focus to the front end loader, however this afternoon was not meant to be. After the barge was placed alongside, ready to receive the loader the wind increased, we were now outside the parameters for this operations to occur. The barge is currently at station ready to bring back the first of the outgoing Davis expeditioners. When they arrive the numbers on board will increase to 45 expeditioners, up from the 24 we have had over the past few days.

Last night, after reviewing the weather forecast, the Voyage Leader in conjunction with the Head of the Refuelling Rats came up with a most cunning plan. A plan that would maximise the use of the weather window ahead. The plan to maximise the weather, meant the fuel line would not need to be left in the water, and provided two windows for the heavy lift of the front end loader (known as the Gold Digger) to be discharged.

This morning the teams on the shore and on the ship waited for the winds to drop. By early afternoon the wind had eased to within operating parameters and the green light was given to commence the discharge of the Gold Digger. Team Barge manoeuvred into position where the barge was secured before they got off into a small boat. The 50 tonne starboard crane lowered the loader, under the guidance of the deck crew, onto the marked positions on the deck of the barge. The barge crew, satisfied with the heel and list, then got back on, the lines were released and the barge then moved away from the ship and headed towards shore escorted by two small boats.

Currently the barge and the loader are sitting at the Davis wharf waiting for the ramps to be secured for the Gold Digger to drive off to its new home. Tomorrow an early start is on the cards with the cunning plan to deploy the 4 inch lay flat hose from the shore to the ship at first light, before the refuelling rats do what they do best ... deliver fuel. As they have been heard to say; "We have fuel, you don't. Any questions?"


Yesterday we successfully discharged our final cargo destined for Davis. Early in the evening a collective sigh was heard from all as the front end loader left the barge and touched the ground at Davis. All the planning and waiting for the right conditions had paid dividends as the Gold Digger was safely delivered to the station.

The focus of everyone then turned to the task of delivering fuel to Davis. The Supervisor of the Refuelling Rats, who had driven the loader off the barge, remained ashore so that he would be present for the early morning deployment of the hose. By 08:00 this morning the layflat hose had been run to the ship from the shore by the small boats who then set the anchors which hold the fuel line in position against wind and currents. After tweaking the anchors to get the line in the required position it was time to the leak test the system. With the safety checks and tests complete, it was time for the Refuelling Rats to start pumping fuel. At 09:35 the first drop of Special Antarctic Blend (SAB) entered the line and made its way to Davis. The Refuelling Rat Team are being ably assisted in this task by watercraft operators and teams of expeditioners who monitor the fuel line on the water, pushing bergy bits away from the line. On the shore there are additional teams monitoring the connection point and dipping the fuel tanks to obtain a reading which is radioed back to the ship every 15 minutes.

Currently we are pumping fuel at a rate of 40 000L an hour and have delivered 300 000L of the 900 000L to Davis. We will stop pumping this evening at 2100 and retrieve the hose back to shore. Tomorrow the hose will be redeployed and pumping will be recommenced.

We hope to discharge enough fuel by 1600 to then pack up and depart for Mawson tomorrow afternoon.
For those for whom they prefer a TLDR - the salient details with pictures:

"Last night, after reviewing the weather forecast, the Voyage Leader in conjunction with the Head of the Refuelling Rats came up with a most cunning plan."

"Tomorrow an early start is on the cards with the cunning plan to deploy the 4 inch lay flat hose from the shore to the ship at first light, before the refuelling rats do what they do best ... deliver fuel. As they have been heard to say; "We have fuel, you don't. Any questions?"


Yes - that's now a matter of official public record for the MPV Everest and the Australian Antarctic Division that the mission log contains the Fuel Rat Motto
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