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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1992-93: VUWAE 37



The planning of the sea ice part of the programme was relatively straight forward with no significant problems, although testing of the corer occurred later than planned. We also did not get a chance to test our winch with the NZAP Nodwell in New Zealand as it had been sent to Scott Base by ship the previous season. Shipping the event cargo went well due to NZAP efforts and good communication.

Planning the ship based programme to core from a USCGC Icebreaker was difficult because NSF,which controls the ship operations, appears not to have a well developed icebreaker programme prior to the start of the season and could only offer 1-2 days ship time during tanker refuelling.this was insufficient for our programme. Our enquiries via NZAP about the Icebreaker's coring and 3.5 kHz profiling equipment were not passed on to the ship. If our enquiries had been answered then we would have been better prepared to take full advantage of the USCGC Polar Star in February 1993 by digitally recording the 3.5 kHz profiling data.

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Figure 1. Ship track, 3.5 kHz profile lines from USCGC polar Star and sea ice coring site 92-1 in Granite Harbour

Figure 1. Ship track, 3.5 kHz profile lines from USCGC polar Star and sea ice coring site 92-1 in Granite Harbour

We hope that in the future better communications will be developed with NSF-OPP and NZAP to enable realistic planning of ship based programmes. It is still necessary where technical questions arise to be able to go directly to the ship or ship operators. The last lesson from this seasons experience is that a ship programme should be ready to go at short notice if an opportunity should arise later than the date when normal planning is finalised. It is a credit to the NZAP operation and flexibility that our February 93 Ice Breaker programme was supported with 3 days notice.

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Operating at the Nordenskjold Ice Tongue is still contemplated for the the future. A helo reconnaissance this season showed suitable fast ice was present along the coast to travel and operate around the ice tongue. We did not have time to travel by skidoo to the Nordenskjold for the bathymetry as planned this season. Based on this seasons reconnaissance it would probably take up to 4 days to travel by bulldozer from Scott Base to the Nordenskjold. This is clearly too long to then give sufficient working time in the area within our safe sea ice operating window. Operating at the Nordenskjold would however be practical if faster vehicles (Challenger and Nodwell) were used or if the vehicles were staged and returned to Cape Roberts in a future season. In this case the one way trip would be only 95 km and possible in 1 to 1.5 days travel.

The NZAP medicals changed significantly this season with a marked increase in the number of blood and other tests required, at a time when Government directed costs of these tests rose dramatically. We question whether these tests are necessary, especially when some of them are only voluntary in the USAP programme.