17 July 2017

Strainstall supports BAS Halley VI relocation project

Extreme temperature load shackles provided load data during towing of Halley VI modules.

Strainstall, part of James Fisher and Sons plc, is extremely proud to announce it has supplied specialist load monitoring equipment to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), to support the Halley VI research station relocation project.

The Halley VI research station, located on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, is an internationally important platform for global earth, atmospheric and space weather observation. Due to uncertainty over a newly developed crack in the ice shelf on which it sat, the British Antarctic Survey announced that Halley VI would be relocated 23km away, to ensure its continued safe operation.

Made up of a series of eight pods that have been built upon huge hydraulic skis, Halley VI is the world’s first fully relocatable research station, although the station had not been moved prior to this recent relocation project. Three years of meticulous research and planning was therefore needed to ensure the project was safely undertaken and was ultimately a success.

Strainstall supplied BAS with its specialist extreme temperature load shackles, along with Scotload’s innovative SmartLoad™ wireless technology, to deliver load monitoring information during the relocation. To verify Strainstall’s specialist load shackle performance in sub-zero temperatures, testing was undertaken down to minus 40 degrees Celsius - the lowest temperature operations would go ahead in as confirmed by BAS.

 “The most critical part of the relocation project was the towing operation. We needed to monitor the loads being applied to the modules by the towing vehicles. The Strainstall team supported us to find the best solution for the extreme conditions of the Antarctic. We had a limited time window so reliability of the equipment was critical to us.”  

Explained Ben Norrish, head of vehicles engineering from the British Antarctic Survey.

Specifically designed for use in harsh environments, Strainstall’s extreme temperature load shackles are especially modified to provide reliability and high accuracy in extreme sub-zero conditions, as was demonstrated on this prestigious project. Using Scotload’s innovative SmartLoad™ wireless technology, the load monitoring information was fed directly to the relocation team in real-time during towing operations, to ensure safety and efficiency as they towed all of the Halley VI modules along the identified safe route. In addition to the live support, the data logging capability enabled the data to be stored and later analysed to help with any potential future relocations.

Simon Everett, managing director of Strainstall said:

“We were thrilled that our shackles were able to provide information to enable a safe and successful relocation of the Halley Research Station. This experience underlines the value of our engineering expertise in providing customers with solutions for challenging applications, where first time success is critical.”

This significant project was also recently a BBC Horizon documentary ‘Antarctica Ice Station Rescue’ which was first broadcast at 21:00 Wednesday 7 June, as BAS invited BBC film-maker Natalie Hewit to document the extraordinary process, dubbed the world's most extreme 'moving job'.