Wednesday, January 11, 2006
posted 1/11/2006 10:49:00 AM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

So, it was another lazy day at the fuel pits yesterday. Fueled a few skiers and a twin otter, then headed back to Mactown. No excitement, no problems, no waffles.

We're pretty much ready for the fuel tanker to come in. Officially, it'll be here on Saturday, but of course there are plenty rumors that it's going to be a bit late. There's still a lot of ice (although relatively small bits) floating around in the turning basin and the passage to the ice pier, so there are even rumors that we'll have to do an offload from the turning basin, which would make things quite a bit more 'interesting.'

Basically the setup now is that there's a channel cut through the sea ice from the ice edge (where the ice meets relatively open ocean - a long way away) to this big circular cutout called the turning basin (where ships turn around,) then there's another channel from the basin to the ice pier. Near the end of the ice pier we have some connections to the town pipeline system, so the usual plan is for the tanker to float from wherever it gets gas to the ice edge, then head to the ice pier by way of the channels and the turning basin. Once the tanker pulls up to the ice pier, we connect it to the pipeline using some relatively short sections of 6" layflat hose (same stuff we run out to the airfields,) then start pumping. The tanker has it's own enormous pumps onboard, but since it's a long way (and up) to the bulk tanks, we have four 6 cylinder diesel booster pumps positioned along the pipeline about halfway up to help shove the fuel up to the tanks. So, once we get things started it should take the better part of two (24 hour) days of nonstop pumping to move something on the order of 6 million gallons of jet fuel at about 3,000 gallons per minute. That's a bunch of fuel! We'll also be getting some mogas (what we call regular unleaded gasoline down here - it's an old military thing,) but since it's such dangerous stuff to work with and our mogas tank is much lower in elevation, we can just hook it up to the tanker and let them do all the pumping without using booster pumps. About half the fuelies will be transitioning to working nights tomorrow so that once the tanker gets in we'll be able to get it unloaded as quickly as possible. I'll still officially be on pit shift, but it'll get extended to being a noon-midnight type thing so that I can help the people doing tanker offload during mealtimes and cover the usual day-to-day operations that need to happen. Should be fun!

So, that's the plan. It'll be interesting to see what actually happens!

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