The challenge: supplying Antarctica while protecting its fragile ecosystem
In autumn 2018, TGP was awarded the contract for project logistics management for the
shipment of construction materials and equipment to Antarctica by BAM, a global construction
and civil engineering company. The project: leading the biosecure preparation and shipment of
the cargo to the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station, located on Rothera
BAM, the client contracting TGP for logistics management, was commissioned by the British
Antarctic Survey to demolish and remove Rothera Point’s existing wharf and build a new one.
When completed, the facility will accommodate the UK’s new state-of-the-art polar research
vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, to serve the UK’s polar science research hub.
Antarctica remains one of the most logistically challenging destinations for shippers to serve –
not only because of its remote location and extreme weather conditions, but also because its
sensitive ecosystem is protected by some of the most stringent biosecurity regulations in the
world. With decades of project management experience in biosecure and quarantine
procedures, TGP is a globally recognised leader and expert in the field of biosecurity logistics.
However, another logistical challenge facing the project team: there was no existing
construction equipment or material on site in Rothera, and space on the vessel sailing to
Antarctica was obviously limited. This necessitated tight coordination between TGP and BAM
to consolidate, prepare and ship almost all the supplies and equipment necessary for the
wharf project – all on a single vessel charter without any margin for error.
While Antarctica has the coldest and one of the harshest climates on Earth, it also has unique
and sensitive ecosystems that can be threatened by the incursion of non-native species of
plants, animals and bacteria. The biggest logistical challenge facing the TGP team was
ensuring the shipment headed for Rothera remained completely contamination-free and in
compliance with the British Antarctic Survey Biosecurity Handbook and The Polar Code, the
latter of which was enacted to minimise the risk of non-native species being introduced to the
Biosecure – from start to finish
Over the course of several weeks in late October and November 2018, a team of Trans Global
Projects experts worked at a specially prepared site to direct all aspects of the
decontamination and loading procedures at AV Dawson facilities at Teesport in Teesside, UK,
which is well equipped to handle such extensive cargo treatments. The decontamination
process for the Rothera shipment was multifaceted and exhaustive.
• First, the Teesport biosecure facility underwent deep cleaning directly prior to
commencement of receiving cargo.
• This specially scheduled cleaning of the facility was conducted in addition to a regular
maintenance schedule of spraying insecticides, pesticides and herbicides in and around the
facility, conducted in addition to the manual inspection for and removal of weeds, rodents,
insects and other pests.
• Second, all cargo intended for the shipment was inspected upon arrival and then washed
using ultra-high-pressure water jets. The decontamination process developed by TGP for
this shipment is unique in its scope.
• The cargo, where deemed necessary, was additionally treated with residual insecticide
solutions. All containers and loading equipment underwent fumigation, and only timber
compliant with the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM15)
was used for export packing.
• The chartered vessel itself also underwent a similar decontamination process in
accordance with the biosecurity plan implemented by TGP.
Under the Antarctic sun: celebrating the New Year with successful delivery
Rothera researchers concluded the year with the vessel’s arrival on 28 December 2018. The
TGP, BAM and BAS teams were able to take advantage of the Antarctic summer for the arrival
and discharging of the new equipment and materials for the research station. As Rothera
Station is just south of the Antarctic Circle, both the vessel’s crew and the Rothera team could
utilise 24 hours of summertime daylight to unload the cargo. Antarctic summers are short –
and temperatures typically only range between 0 to +5 degrees Celsius. Despite the threat of
snow at any time of year, most sea ice restricting traffic to the continent dissipates by the end
of November each year.