BigLift Shipping’s BigLift Baffin has been booked to deliver the new Scott Base research station to Antarctica in January 2027. BigLift is joining forces with Antarctica New Zealand, Leighs Construction and Mammoet to transport Aotearoa’s new home 3720 km across the Southern Ocean to the ice.
The new base will be transported exactly seventy years after the original base opened in 1957. The landmark voyage will echo New Zealand’s Antarctic history: the original Scott Base consisted of prefabricated buildings delivered on the HMNZS Endeavour when the research station was established.
BigLift Shipping will sail the prefabricated base from PrimePort Timaru, New Zealand, to Pram Point, Ross Island, on the back of an MC-class vessel in four years’ time.
Construction will begin at PrimePort Timaru mid-2023, allowing 3.5 years to build, test and commission the new base before its journey south.
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Heavy module carrier
The MC-class vessel is an ice-strengthened heavy module carrier, specifically designed to operate in remote and inaccessible areas, like Antarctica.
The 20,675-metric-tonne, 173-metre vessel will bypass the usual offload point at the United States’ McMurdo Station and sail directly to Pram Point, where Scott Base is situated – it’s the first time that a ship of this size will moor at Aotearoa’s only Antarctic station.
Mammoet’s self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) will move the new base onto the ship in Timaru and off again in Antarctica. The three interconnected buildings will be separated into eight modules (each about 800 metric tonnes), sealed, and welded onto the vessel for the journey.
Mammoet Global Segment Lead of Transport and Logistics Reinder de Haan says the installation method is as robust as possible, with the highest priority given to safety and operational redundancy: ‘The versatile SPMTs have tremendous power, yet can be manoeuvred with millimetre precision so that each section of the new station will be perfectly aligned when we set it down.’
Also read: VIDEO: BigLift Baffin transports four cranes in one go
Supply mission complete
The first chartered vessel for the project, BigLift’s Happy Delta, arrived in McMurdo Sound last month to deliver around 870,000 kg of cargo for the redevelopment. Infrastructure, machinery and equipment were offloaded at McMurdo Station with the support of the United States Antarctic Program and the New Zealand Defence Force.
A comprehensive environmental monitoring programme is underway to ensure any impacts to the environment are minimised through the redevelopment.
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Antarctica research safeguarded
Antarctica New Zealand project director for the Scott Base Redevelopment Jon Ager says the new base will safeguard New Zealand’s world-leading scientific research programme and presence in Antarctica for another fifty years or more.
‘We’re delighted to be working with Leighs Construction to harness the knowledge and expertise of BigLift Shipping and Mammoet. These companies have a wealth of experience on complex projects in challenging environments,’ Ager says.
Picture (top): Artist impression of a BigLift vessel delivering the research station modules (still from the video below).