After scrub-down, breakbulk consignment heads for the Antarctic

After scrub-down, breakbulk consignment heads for the Antarctic

The 12,696 dwt Billesborg delivering construction equipment and material to the environmentally sensitive Antarctic region in January. Photo credit: Trans Global Projects.

The third of three breakbulk shipments bound for the southern end of the globe will arrive there in March, after British logistics company Trans Global Projects (TGP) completes the special cargo and vessel preparations necessary for making landfall in the environmentally vulnerable Antarctic region, TGP group managing director Colin Charnock told JOC.com.   

Working at a specially prepared site at Teesport, England, TGP has overseen the deep cleaning of loading areas, cargo, and containers with insecticides and pesticides and the deployment of a rodent detection team, part of biosecurity preparations for all three Antarctic shipments, according to TGP. 

“The March shipment will deliver onshore infrastructure, including modular buildings and new living quarters, to the Rothera Research Station,” Charnock said. The station, used by Britain's Antarctic survey research team, is located on Adelaide Island, just west of the Antarctic peninsula. 

The first two shipments brought construction equipment and materials to Rothera and to South Georgia, a British territory in the southern Atlantic, last month and in early 2019. Royal BAM, a Dutch construction group, is building the Rothera site and contracted with TGP for logistics services.

Biosecurity requirements

The Antarctic region, especially South Georgia, is a wildlife haven and the site of globally significant environmental and conservation research. South Georgia maintains particularly robust biosecurity requirements, presenting a unique challenge for cargo shipping.

Between 2009 and 2018, the world’s largest island rodent eradication program was carried out on South Georgia, ridding the island of rats and mice that had been devastating its wildlife for nearly 250 years. To protect the island’s numerous at-risk species, the South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands government operates a stringent post-eradication biosecurity policy for all inbound vessels and cargo. The policy can mean vessel delays, as well as the forced return of cargo for any breach, according to TGP. 

“TGP previously used the geared, 12,696 deadweight ton (dwt) general cargo ship Billesborg, operated by Denmark’s Weco Shipping, to transport equipment and material to South Georgia,” Charnock said. 

The Antarctic route presented numerous challenges, including downslope winds and berthing restrictions, according to TGP.

Contact special correspondent Keith Wallis at keithwallis@hotmail.com.