RRS Bransfield: At the Edge of a Wilderness

RRS Bransfield unloading near Halley, January 1972

 20" x 30",  Oil on canvas,  1994

British Antarctic Survey's RRS Bransfield off-loading stores in January 1973 on to the shelf ice for transport to Halley Bay, their base a few miles away built near the edge of the Brunt Ice Shelf on the eastern coast of the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Halley Station, as it is now called, has been operational since the International Geophysical Year 1957-58. It is British Antarctic Survey's most southerly base and it was there in the early 1980s that the hole in the ozone layer was first confirmed.

RRS Bransfield, 4816 grt (1577 tons net), was built at Leith, Scotland and launched on 4th September 1970. She is an ice strengthened cargo ship of Lloyds 100 A1 Ice Class 1 classification. Her length is 325 feet, beam 60 feet and draught 22 feet with a service speed of 13 knots on two engines. She has a cargo capacity of 3450m3 with research laboratories and a conference and computer room. Her duties, following annual discharge of cargo at Halley, are to supply and transport cargo and personnel, insert coastal depots and support coastal survey and geological research parties principally in the region of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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