It is still winter in Antarctica: -41°C at Halley and -12°C at Rothera. But back in the UK preparations for the next field season are in full swing. After a summer spent doing research in the Arctic, RRS James Clark Ross is now in its annual refit, undergoing the regular maintenance required to keep it running smoothly in the harsh polar seas. And before long, it will be heading back to the Southern Hemisphere, carrying cargo for the main iSTAR research cruise, taking place in January-March 2014.
Much of the cargo for next season’s traverse is already in Antarctica. But some items are currently en route to Punta Arenas, Chile, where they will be flown in with the traverse teams in November. And other cargo, especially items that can’t be flown in, is going on the ship to Rothera, where it will arrive in December.
The equipment for the main iSTAR science cruise, JR294/JR295, will also be on board when the ship departs the UK. Some of the larger items, such as Autosub-3, are going straight to the ship in Immingham. But most of the cargo for the science cruises, as well as items for Rothera and the smaller island bases, Signy, Bird Island, and King Edward Point, pass through the BAS logistics store before they are sent to the JCR. Thousands of boxes end up going through the store each season – and almost all of them end up in the correct destination when they are needed!