Loading the “Ivan Papanin”
Our science gear and ice cores are off the continent! The good ship “Ivan Papanin” took the cargo on board today, and hopefully it will all arrive safely in Cape Town for onwards shipment early next month.
Location: Fimbulisen (ice shelf), 70º 06’ S, 5º 19’ E, 17 metres a.s.l.
Weather: Cloudy, -11 C, wind 14 kts
“Ivan Papanin” is a large, ice-breaking freighter of Murmansk, Russia. During this Antarctic summer it is employed by the “DROMSHIP” network to shuttle cargo between the research stations in Dronning Maud Land and Cape Town. Early this morning it arrived at Fimbulisen from Atkabukta (Bay), near the German Neumayer Station, and tonight it will return there to take on board more cargo, then proceed to Cape Town.
The loading was painless. Most of our cargo was preloaded into shipping containers, and went on board with a few crane lifts. Along with us at “the quay” were Trond, Johan and Kai from Troll Station, who have come down to receive supplies for the station and to ship waste and other cargo out to South Africa or back to Norway. They are running a more serious transport business than we are; with large Prinoth snow groomers pulling up to five container sledges each.
Usually the scene here at the unloading site is quite lively during the summer season, with Adelie penguins literally invading the camp. Their natural curiosity attracts them to anything unusual, and to human activity in particular. We are supposed to leave the wildlife here alone – but what can we do when the wildlife doesn’t want to leave us alone? So we watch them just as keenly as they seem to be watching us; it is hard not to be charmed by these inquisitive and busy birds.
We are, however, at the tail of their season, and the birds are leaving the coast. Tomorrow all will be quiet at Fimbulisen. The ship will have put to sea, the birds will be heading for the drift ice, and we will be on our way inland to Troll Station.
Trond Løvdal’s freight train crossing the ice shelf at dusk. Photo: Stein Tronstad/NPI