RRS Bransfield - Position Report 19

Date Sunday 14th February 1999
Time 1200 (UTC-3)
Position Latitude 75°14' South 
Longitude 025°15' West 
Next destination Signy
ETA 21st February 1999
Total distance 17595.2 Nautical Miles 
(Since departing Grimsby on 17th October 1998)
Current weather Overcast
Wind Light
Sea state n/a
Air temperature -5.1°C
Sea temperature -1.2°C

Ship's track - Updated every six hours from the weather observations sent to Bracknell weather centre - direct from BAS homepage.


On Sunday (7th) evening several interesting meteorological phenomena were observed at about 2100. These consisted of frost smoke (fog-like clouds due to the contact of cold air with relatively warm water which will sometimes persist whilst ice is forming), Halo phenomena (consisting of a group of rings, arcs, pillars or bright spots, produced by refraction or reflection by ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere) and diamond dust (this being the suspended ice crystals which can be seen blowing past on the wind). Whilst on the subject of meteorological phenomena, there is a form of ice called a bummock, which, from the point of view of a submariner, is a downward projection from the underside of an ice canopy, the counterpart of a hummock!

Monday and the Bransfield was still standing off Creek 6, running the cargo tender 'Tula' into the creek to load waste, empty drums and cargo from the base. On the morning of Tuesday 9th the Bransfield moved down the coast to the East to an area of low shelf ice that we could tie up to and then load heavier items such as vehicles (a snowcat, bulldozer and muskeg to name three). The area goes by the splendid name of N9! The height of the low ice shelf is just above that of the Main Deck on the Bransfield as can clearly be seen in the above photograph. This provides good access to and from the ship. The intention was to remain at N9 for a few days, but we are still here six days later. On Wednesday the Twin Otter aircraft based at Halley flew down with four passengers to join us.

Thursday and no pax/cargo movements and so the opportunity was taken to do some nautical things. All the Humber inflatable boats were put into the water and their engines given a good run to ensure that there would be no problems for working at Signy and Bird Island. Whilst out in one of the boats, 2nd Officer Dave Gooberman and SG2 Mark Taylor spotted something in the water and collected it for examination on board. It is thought to be Pelagic Bryozoan, a species first discovered by Officers on the Bransfield in 1992, and so rather exciting for us. The 'beast', as it is known by us, is not very large, being slightly smaller than a tennis ball, is clear in colour and really rather like a blob! It will be transported back to the UK for further analysis by biologists at the Survey.

Friday was another day for playing in boats, this time it was with two of the ships lifeboats. By law they have to be tested at least once every three months and this is an ideal location for such a test. You may be pleased to know that they worked perfectly. In the late afternoon and evening some Minke whales swam into the bay and past the ship, affording some good views. Saturday and we had a fire exercise for all the ships staff. The remainder of the day was fairly quiet.

At 0230 Sunday morning the Halley Twin Otter aircraft arrived with some skidoos and equipment from 'Sledge Kilo' this being one of the deep field parties deployed from Rothera base. All this equipment will be transhipped to Rothera. Later in the day the aircraft made a further three flights to the ship with 13 more passengers joining us for the journey north.

The base is making all the last minute adjustments before the influx of summer staff depart, leaving just 16 people at Halley until the start of the next summer. This period will include several months of not seeing the sun, although not complete darkness as there will from time to time be light from the moon and stars and also from the impressive aurora Australis, which was first recorded by Captain Cook in 1773!

Forthcoming Events

Depart Halley on Tuesday 16th for Signy Island.

GM0HCQ/MM QRV 10122kHz @ 0000z

The next update will be written on Sunday 21st February 1999 and should be published on Monday 22nd February 1999.

RRS Bransfield secure alongside the low ice shelf at N9, loading vehicles on Tuesday 9th February 1999


Tula at the bottom of the ramp at Creek 6. When the Bransfield was here in December the sea ice extended well beyond the headlands. Notice also the bank of fog that is approaching the area. This stopped both flying and cargo operations.


Life in the Freezer! Is this Pelagic Bryozoan?


Last updated 16/02/1999 - webmaster@dartcom.co.uk