Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

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Mike from Antarctica

Mike worked for BAS for two years during which time he went to the Antactic twice - in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Mike has visited every BAS base - Signy, South Georgia, Halley, Faraday and Rothera.

BAS operate two ice breaker class vessels. During Mike's time with BAS these were RRS James Clarke Ross and RRS Bransfield. Mike sailed on both of these ships. The Bransfield was replaced by RRS Sir Earnest Shackleton in 2000.

RRS Bransfield

When returning home from the 1993-94 trip a fire in the main propulsion motor room stranded Mike and his colleagues for 5 days until rescue arrived in the form of the James Clarke Ross.


Halley is built on 20 legs that are kept 5m clear of the snow surface. Since the snow surface builds up at a rate of 2m per year it is necessary to continually extend the legs to prevent the building becoming buried and crushed by the ice. The Brunt Ice Shelf on which Halley stands is 175m thick and flows northwards at 2m per day. These movements place strains on the buildings which therefore require continual maintenance of the legs which can bend in addition to being buried. The pictures here show engineers performing this maintenance.




A sign at Halley shows distances in kilometers to other destinations around the world. The South pole is 1602 km away.

Here is a pic of Mike at Halley in his Kings Head tee-shirt.



Haley at sunset

Leisure Activities at Halley

There are many leisure activities to keep the base population engrossed. There is a bar with duty free prices and a pool table. Mike played football against a team from a German expedition on Christmas day in 1994. Abseiling down crevasses is popular (see pic).


There is a colony of more than 50,000 Emplorer penguins about 20 miles down the coast. The method of transport is by skidoo or snowcat. Cross-country skiing is a possibility. The aurora australis (southern lights) frequently produces magnificent night skies. Sunsets can also be spectacular.


RRS Bransfield (Royal Research Ship)

Each BAS vessel is an ice-breaker. Here the Bransfield is pictured by Mike as it forces its way through pack ice enroute to Halley. The ship may use up to 25 tons of fuel a day as it forces its way through the ice.

Ice breaker

Sometimes the speed of the iceflow drift north is greater than the speed of the ship forcing its way south. When this happens the ships engines may be switched off until wind and tide open up leads (cracks) which allow the ship to continue its journey.


Sygny was originally a whaling station. Here is a picture of 'cemetery flats' where whalers were buried. Interestingly if someone dies at Signy they would be brought home for burial but at Halley they would be buried in the ice.


On the pic of the single cross you can clearly sea the inscription relating to the Norwegian whaler buried there.


Sygny - Tonsberg House

Tonsberg House is one of the buildings at Sygny. If you enlarge this plaque, made from whale bones, you will see how many whales of each species were caught during the 19-year lifetime of the station from 1911 to 1930.

Tonsberg House