“Vasily Golovnin” supplies two Indian Antarctic stations | Polarjournal
Two helicopters were used to unload and transport the supplies from the vessel to the “Bharati” station. (Photo: FESCO)

This Antarctic season, the diesel-electric Vasily Golovnin has not only supplied its own stations. The ship left Cape Town at the end of December 2023 and arrived at the Indian station Bharati in mid-January 2024. Provisions and fuel were delivered and station personnel were exchanged. Equipment and supplies were brought ashore by two helicopters.

According to the information provided, the work at the Bharati station took more than a month. The crew of the Vasily Golovnin not only unloaded fuel, food and equipment, but also actively supported Indian polar explorers in carrying out scientific research. After completing the work at the Bharati station, she continued on to the Indian research station Maitri, where she arrived at the beginning of March.

The Vasily Golovin is a Russian icebreaking cargo ship built in 1988 in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It was named after the Russian navigator Vice Admiral Vasily Golovnin (1776-1831). It is operated by the Russian Far East Shipping Company (FESCO), but is regularly chartered by other countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. (Photo: FESCO)

The plan for the ice-strengthened research vessel was to remain at the Maitri station until mid-March. After that, the Vasily Golovnin will head for the starting point of the expedition, the port of Cape Town (South Africa). From there, the Indian researchers on exchange will fly back to their home country.

“According to our experts, the weather conditions around the Indian stations are very difficult this year. The natural break-up of fast ice around the continent is much greater than last year. Difficult work is also being caused by the natural phenomenon of “ice flow”, which creates large quantities of ice and icebergs. These are picked up by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and form a difficult strip of loose ice in the ocean,” said Nikolay Chvertko, Director of the FESCO office in Vladivostok.

Nikolay Chvertko: “This will be a serious test for our sailors to navigate through the loose ice on the way home to Cape Town”. (Photo: FESCO)

This is now the sixth expedition to supply Indian Antarctic stations and the third as part of the five-year contract that FESCO and the Indian Antarctic program NCPOR have signed in October 2021. FESCO has extensive experience in Antarctica and has repeatedly been involved in government projects to supply research stations in a number of countries.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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