After a few days delay, due to difficult sea-ice conditions, Ivan Papanin finally arrived. Firstly it rammed full speed into the sea ice below the shelf itself, to drop off 3 russians. After being picked up by us (snowmobiles can be taken out on the sea ice quite safely), they set to work drilling holes for the moorings. 1m deep holes did not prevent the moorings popping out on 3 occasions. We tried to keep away from the ropes.
The unloading has begun. The white containers hold big diesel tanks used to fuel our power station. The small rods along the ice edge is our rudimentary safety fence (mainly a psychological barrier...). Cooperating with the russian sailors, especially the guy steering the crane, was a big challenge with no common language, but hand waving and (incomprehensible) shouting got all the containers on "shore" without any accidents or injuries. Lucky me!
They claim the boat was built in 1991, but it felt, say, 30 years older. Rust everywhere, and a distinctly russian feel to everything (note the painting on the wall in the cantina). The unloading took nearly 3 days, so we had our meals on board. Hearty russian food. Sharing the table with us are a french filmteam making a documentary about Antarctica. They're also following the Belgian Antarctic Research Expedition in their construction of a new Antarctic station, also supplied by Ivan Papanin. Eager to proceed to their own docking site, the belgians were very helpful in unloading all our fuel drums (the heaviest part of the job!).
I am norwegian doctor who worked as expedition doc on the Antarctic research station Troll for the summer season 2007-2008. NB: This blog is intended as a personal and ecological account from The Ice Planet - fully independent of the Norwegian Polar Institute, their official web page being: npweb.npolar.no