Akademik Fedorov Vessel Caught in Force 6 Storm on Its Way to Antarctica

Антарктида
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Drilling platforms offshore the Netherlands, inverted washing machines in the ship’s laundry, and preparations for Neptune Day. Scientists from St. Petersburg Mining University, who are on a seasonal detachment to the Vostok science station, shared their impressions of the second week of the expedition to the Sixth Continent.

After leaving the port of Bremerhaven, the ship with the polar explorers on board set sail for Cape Town, which is just over 6,000 nautical miles away. On average, it travels about 330 miles a day, depending on weather conditions. That means the chances of docking in a South African port on Dec. 1, as scheduled, are very good.

“After leaving Germany, we passed through the Watt Sea. These are territorial waters of the Netherlands,” says Vyacheslav Kadochnikov, lead engineer at Mining University. “The most striking impression from there: a huge number of oil platforms. We are drillers by training, so we know the difference between production platforms and drilling rigs. So, the hydrocarbon fields on the shelf are being actively developed, a lot of new wells are being built there. So the talks about Europe’s soon abandonment of fossil fuels do not quite accurately reflect the real state of affairs. At the same time, a smooth transition to alternative energy sources is happening. This is evidenced by the endless fields of wind farms, which rise epically above the sea surface. And twinkle in the night like a swarm of red crickets.”

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After crossing the North Sea and the English Channel, the polar explorers entered the raging Bay of Biscay, which greeted them with a six-point storm. According to the scientists, it wasn’t the rocking that woke them up at night, but the sound of falling cups and broken glass. It came from a neighbouring cabin: colleagues had forgotten to prepare to go out into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Anyone who has ever been to the Bay of Biscay knows that its reputation is not an empty phrase,” says Danil Serbin, another RAE participant from the University of Mining University. “What epithets sailors have not awarded him. And the great, and terrible, and fierce. All this is true. In the morning after the night storm, we found upside-down washing machines in the laundry. Then all the crew of Vostok station eliminated the consequences of the storm in the hold. Nothing life-threatening happened, but I, for example, would not want to sail here on a yacht. The weather conditions are very severe.”

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On the next day, when the rocking had noticeably abated, a series of lectures on scientific research in Antarctica began on the ship. It was opened by a team from St. Petersburg Mining University. Danil Serbin and postgraduate Dmitry Vasiliev spoke about the scientific importance of drilling deep wells at Vostok station, as well as about the people, thanks to whose efforts this project was implemented and now continues to develop. One of them was Nikolay Vasiliev, for many years head of the Department of Drilling at Mining University, participant of many expeditions to the White Continent, laureate of the Government Prize in Science and Technology. He passed away just recently, in January of this year.

“We spoke in detail about the history of our research in Antarctica, methods of studying paleoclimate, technologies of drilling deep wells in the ice, results of the first and second openings of the subglacial Lake Vostok. The world achievements of Soviet and Russian scientists were especially noted. Among the listeners were our Polish colleagues, who were very impressed by the level of scientific work done,” said Dmitry Vasiliev.

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© Форпост Северо-Запад
Антарктида
© Форпост Северо-Запад

The “Academician Fedorov” has already passed the Canary Islands. Northwest Africa and zero latitudes are ahead. In honour of crossing the equator, the ship will host a traditional sea holiday - Neptune Day. Polar explorers are now trying on costumes and getting acquainted with their upcoming roles in this colourful traditional event.

Forpost is sure to report about it in the 20s of November.