British Antarctic Survey starts to repatriate research team

Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has announced 'exceptional plans' to repatriate scientists, support teams and construction workers as they complete their Antarctic summer field season work.

Normal plans to bring teams home have been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

BAS has enlisted the support of a Noble Caledonia passenger ship moored close to the Falkland Islands. It will act as temporary, quarantined accommodation for scientists and support staff while they wait to return home.

It will bring back to the UK around 90 science, support staff and a number of construction workers who have been building a new wharf for the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Thanking the shipping for use of their ship BAS Director Professor Dame Jane Francis said:

Prof Dame Jane Francis Credit: British Antarctic Survey

She added: "In spite of all of this, our Antarctic field season has been very successful. Our deep-field and shipborne science programmes have generated new data that will help us understand the impacts of climate change and future sea-level rise. Our new wharf is complete thanks to the efforts of our construction partner BAM and our programme management team. Now, I wish all of our staff, research colleagues and contractors a safe journey home; I thank them – and their families – for their patience and cooperation during a very challenging repatriation operation.”

Noble Caledonia Head of Fleet Operations Mike Deegan said

“We are delighted to be able to assist British Antarctic Survey with the repatriation of their staff members who have been involved with vital scientific and research work down south. We shall do everything in our power to return their staff safely, as swiftly as possible and in a quarantined environment to their families and loved ones”.

The RRS James Clark Ross is currently at Rothera Research Station unloading supplies for the Antarctic winter.

Once operations are complete Rothera summer team members will board the ship joining personnel who have been working at Signy, Bird Island and King Edward Point research stations who are already onboard.

The ship will transport people to the Falkland Islands to rendezvous with the charter ship and return to Rothera to bring any remaining summer staff north.

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