Crown Bay, Antarctica, January 27, 2012 – Adventure scientists crossing the Antarctic on board the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s Dedicated Training Vessel, the SA Agulhas, have given the thumbs up to trainee marine recruits accompanying the Coldest Journey team on the expedition.
The never-before-attempted voyage to cross the Antarctic in winter, and with SA Agulhas, is in progress and this week the crew and scientists, under the leadership of Captain David Hall, were busy off loading the equipment for the Coldest Journey team.
Anton Bowring, the Coldest Journey’s co leader said the team was keen to get going on the ice after having spent days hauling all the stores, equipment and fuel from sea level up to the plateau at 3, 500 meters.
He found the SAMSA Marine cadets to be extremely helpful and praised them. Along with the deck crew, under the direction of the bosun, the marine cadets had been hooking up pallets, nets and slings with cargo from the holds and from the deck.
“They are extremely helpful, hard-working and friendly, ” Bowring said, “we think of the cadets and all the crew as members of our expedition. They have all contributed greatly to the success of our project so far.”
The expedition team face a 4, 000 kilometer journey through the remotest place on earth at temperatures of -70°C and perpetual darkness with no chance of search and rescue.
“The cadets are learning skills and gaining experiences which are rare and very valuable. Their CVs will have, in addition to all the conventional aspects of shipping, a record of their polar experiences. This includes ship handling on ice, understanding weather and working in an unusual, challenging environment. They have taken keen interest in the environment around them which will give them great opportunities in the future, ” Bowring said.
The Coldest Journey found the expedition would have been impossible to accomplish without the support of SA Agulhas and SAMSA. “For nearly five years we searched for a suitable vessel. Only early in 2012 did it become clear that cooperation between SAMSA and the expedition could achieve the unique requirements of both the expedition itself and SAMSA’s cadet training scheme. For this reason, the ship has proved to be perfect and we are fortunate and privileged to use her.”
South Africa’s role in the expedition was very significant, added Bowring. With SAMSA’s support and belief in the Coldest Journey’s project, South Africa had demonstrated that great achievements could be attained by perseverance and hard work.
“Our expedition is attempting a world first by crossing Antarctica in winter. South Africa had shown that it can tackle big challenges too. The country’s recent history is testament to what can be achieved by such perseverance. The collaboration between the expedition and South Africa, especially in relation to the experience of the cadets is a wonderful example to the world, ” Bowring said.
The ship will leave Crown Bay when the expedition team would be completely self-sufficient and no longer need the crew and this could be within the next week, possibly arriving in Cape Town during the latter part of February.