Z-fids Newsletter No. 45

October 2019

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 45   24 Oct 2019

Editor: Andy Smith (email andy@zfids.org.uk)
Website: www.zfids.org.uk

News about Halley VIa
Richard Warren, the current Station Leader, has sent the following news:
"November 2018 - Feb 2019 saw the first season of Halley's new
summer-only operating dynamic implemented on the Brunt Ice Shelf. With
no planned ship relief last season, the small team of 36 lived out of
the Drewry building to deliver the "Halley-summer only" season. This is
to preserve as much fuel as possible to continue science delivery until
it’s possible to resupply the station by sea. To support the 36 strong
team, the Drewry has now come full circle, with what I've only ever
known as "The Old Kitchen" since I have been coming to Halley in the
2013/14 season, being refurbished and returning to its former status as
"The Kitchen". This will continue into 19/20 to be the accommodation and
dining space for the 30 individuals who will be southbound in November.

Chasm 1 continues to overstay its welcome on the western part of the ice
shelf. As of mid-September 2019, with only 2.6km of unbroken ice
remaining between the northern tip of Chasm 1 and a radial crack
growing south from the MacDonald Ice Rumples, the expected acceleration
of the crack as it "hinges" off from the Brunt hasn't taken place. The
propagation of the chasm slowed over the winter although it continues to
widen at a fairly consistent rate. Likewise Halloween Crack continues
extending steadily eastward, the tip now being roughly 60km to the east
of the Rumples. Chasm 2 remains dormant.

I am delighted to say that the Microturbine Generator continues to run
and be a source of up to 15kW of power for wintering science experiments
and the essential comms & data link back to Cambridge. It has now been
running successfully and totally unattended for 8 months, refuelling
itself via an automated refuelling system from two bulk tanks parked
nearby. It has endured temperature ranges of -5 C to -50 C, long periods
of thick rime frost, and wind speed gusting to 70kn. The science data
it is facilitating the collection of is the first such wintering science
data from Halley since 2016, and includes the first automated Dobson
readings of the spring ozone hole. This is a huge achievement for Halley
given the increasing operational challenges on the Brunt.

The upcoming season works are centred on the microturbine system,
increasing the redundancy in terms of hardware, refuelling ability,
communication link, and power distribution to the science instruments.
Several new science instruments are set to be installed in the form of
All-Sky-Cameras, a condensation particle counter, and an automated NOAA
flask sampling kit. The need for automated instrumentation continues to
be a source of brilliance from the engineers based in Cambridge.
Alongside this, a full commission of the Halley modules are planned to
develop faster methods of opening up and closing them down and to
maximise their use while Halley is a summer only station.

I hope you'll join me in wishing the team a safe and successful season

The news story "2019 /20 Antarctic field season begins" issued by the
BAS Press Office on 22nd October 2019 states:
"In November, Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf re-opens.
The station continues to operate as a summer-only facility until the
stability of the ice shelf can be assured. An engineering team will
return to further develop the successful micro-turbine power system
that has successfully enabled automated scientific instruments to
capture data such as ozone concentration, space weather and upper
atmosphere observations during the winter months (Feb-Oct) when the
station is unoccupied."

Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

Dave 'Gonk' Hoy
Dave died on 3rd April. He wintered in 1969 as DEM and 1970 as tractor
mechanic. Mike Taylor, who wintered with him in 1970, says he was
"a great companion on Base, always helpful and generous with a great
sense of humour."

Gary Whitehead
Gary was a Met-physicist who wintered at Halley in 1986-87. He passed
away in Darmstadt, Germany on 15 June 2019.

Peter Blakeley
Peter was one of the Halley meteorologists in the 1992 winter. He moved
to Argentine Islands in 1963. In 1966 he was back at Halley as tractor
mechanic. He retired to live in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and was
involved in reunions of the 1966 team held in 2001 and 2016. He died
aged 82 on 7th July. His son was on an expedition in Greenland at the time.

Les Barclay
Les died on 31st July. He was a member of the Royal Society IGY
Expedition to Halley Bay and served as member of the Ionospherics team.
On his return to the UK, he had a career as a distinguished
radio-scientist, with Marconi and then the Radiocommunications Agency.
He was active in the International Telecommunication Union. When he
sailed South to spend two and a half years at Halley Bay, he left behind
his girlfriend Janet, but they kept in touch intermittently by letter and
occasionally radio, and they married on his return.

Maurice Sumner
Maurice died in the middle of October. He was a wintering meteorologist
in 1961 and Base Leader in 1963. On his return from Halley Bay, he
worked at BAS HQ, then based in Gillingham Street, London, in the
logistics and personnel departments. Later he worked at NERC HQ
in Logistics. Maurice was a regular attender at BAS Club reunions. In
2013 he recorded an interview for the British Antarctic Oral History
Project. This may be accessed on the BAS Club website. There is a
link on the 1963 Z-Fids page.

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
Contributions welcome.

Ron Lloyd
"Doc Ron", wintering doctor in 1966, wrote (following the last Z-Fids
Newsletter): "I’m in a hospital bed reading this having just had a
total knee replacement. Sounds like Halley is still alive and well." 

Emperor Penguin Project
Steve Marshall writes on behalf of Peter Fretwell at BAS, to ask for
help to gather information from Z-Fids about the nearby Emperor penguin
colony and how it has changed over the years. Peter is interested in 
any anecdotal information on the Halley emperor penguin colony. "We are
particularly interested in any estimates of size, years when there was
breeding success or failure, early fast ice blow-outs and any evidence
that there were years when the colony did not form." The project has
been set up following the loss of the colony due to sea ice break up in
the 2016 winter. For more information, see the 2016 Z-Fids page. If you
would like to help, contact Steve on smar@bas.ac.uk
Steve Marshall was wintering plumber in 1995 and Halley Base Commander
2000-2003. He is now Head of Polar Services at BAS. Peter Fretwell is
the world leader in remote monitoring of Emperor colonies, e.g. using
satellite data.

Jimmy Hendry
Congratulations to Jimmy, plumber in 2013, who has gained Chartered
institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers. Jimmy says "It’s one
of the highest acknowledgements of professionalism in our profession,
their top accolade."

RRS Ernest Shackleton
After 20 years on charter by BAS, with her mainly logistics role
including the annual relief of Halley, she was returned to her owners,
the Norwegian shipping company G C Rieber, on 30th April this year. Her
role will be taken over by the new polar ship, the Sir David
Attenborough. She was built at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead,
and formally named on 26th September 2019 by the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge. For more information, see the link on the 2018+ zfids page.

The Man Who Discovered Antarctica
This book is a biography of Edward Bransfield, by Sheila Bransfield was
published by Pen & Sword Books in August 2019. Sheila is on the Z-Fids
mailing list, has visited Antarctica, and attended the Z-50 and Z-60

British Antarctic Oral History Project
Of the 286 Oral History interviews held in BAS Archives, 246 have now
been transcribed by our team of volunteers.
88 of the interviews have been published on the BAS Club website (link
on the zfids home page) and more are expected to be published later this
year. You don't need to be a BAS Club member to see them. There are
links on the Z-Fids website to the interviews featuring Halley people
(See the General Index under Oral history recordings).

Here are a couple of extracts from the interviews:

Andy Spearey (Tractor Mechanic, 1979): Rescue from floating ice blocks
"Unloading on sea ice is always a fraught exercise really. One year,
bizarrely we had finished relief. Thinking about it, it must have been
earlier than that because I think it was the year that the old
International crawler went back. We had got it on board and then a few
days later or a day later we were just putting the last of the stuff on
ready to leave and all of a sudden the sea ice started to break up and
it broke up into great big blocks. Well they weren’t that big really
and there was two or three of us still on these bloody blocks, just
floating around. Stuart Lawrence, cool and calm as ever, said ‘Stay
where you are, chaps. We will pick you up in due course.’ Then he took
a few minutes to fire the engines up and get everything working on
board, and eventually they swung round and with a crane and a basket
they picked us up, picked us off."
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/205.

Barry Peters (Ionosphericist, 1962): Harbrow’s Folly
It was called Harbrow’s Folly, Halley 1 and a half, built in ’62, it
was sandwich ply panels, with wires running through so they could be
pulled together tight, flat roof, girder frames on the inside. Major
problem: they had only put in about a quarter of the bolts required to
put the framework together. So it only lasted a few years. In 1966 the
roof caved in, so they had a hell of a winter with just plastic sheet
over the roof. Not a nice year to be there. Harbrow’s Folly, built by a
company called Harbrow. Now who was responsible for lack of bolts and
nuts to put the damned thing together, I am not sure. But again, when
we were there, of course, it was brand new because we had built the
thing, so there was a bunkroom block, then a little corridor and a main
living block. So it was built like that. The interesting thing was:
before I left, one of our guys lost his false teeth one night down the
loo. Poor old John lost some of his teeth, and we dangled him down the
hole, which fortunately had not been used because it was the inaugural
party, if you like, for this wonderful new building, and found that
there was a whacking great fissure running right under the bunkroom
section. So everybody trod very carefully after that. It was sitting
on the bearers OK but there was this great big crack. It had obviously
opened up a crevasse or something. But again, nobody seemed too
bothered by it. It was not going to fall in the hole, so fine, why
NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/86.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

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27 Mar 2020
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