Friday, February 10, 2006
posted 2/10/2006 01:27:00 AM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

Tanker offload begins!

What a relief! After all the waiting, speculation, rescheduling, waiting, anticipation, and more waiting - the tanker is here, it's being offloaded, and it's going smoothly! Tanker offload is the single biggest project we have every season in fuels, so it's a pretty complex operation. We have at least 10 people working on offload 24 hours a day until the tanker has delivered our order. For offload, we have at least these positions being occupied at all times, and occasionally (like today when Matt and I got back from Willy,) have extra people on, who generally take care of chores or act as runners:

*Two people in the office coordinating things and keeping logs of the process.

*One person, the sponson, stays on the tanker and helps coordinates between our office (aka 'control') and the ship.

*One person is stationed near five valves at the end of our town pipeline network (the 'hardline') where the hoses to the tanker connect. This person rotates out with the linewalker.

*One person is the linewalker, they basically just walk the same path that the fuel is flowing to inspect the pipeline and all the valves along it. This person rotates out with the person at the pier valves.

*Two people run the four booster pumps, which are big 6 cylinder diesel powered pumps on trailers that help keep the fuel moving up to our bulk tanks, which are at significantly higher elevation than the tanker. The tanker has it's own pumps, but they're not quite powerful enough to move that far uphill at the speeds that we need to move it at.

*Two people are stationed at the pass where they monitor the levels in our bulk tanks and open/close valves as needed.

*Two people (at least) are 'runners,' who basically take care of all the little odds and ends that inevitably pop up. Basically they switch out with other people for bathroom/warmup/meal breaks, deliver tools or food, offer moral support, or take care of whatever random tasks pop up.

The Lawrence M Gianella, provider of sustinence for our little programKrasin pulled up beside Gianella for the evening
Tonya, the night sponson, and a couple Gianella crew guysThe booster pumps

Finally, an abbreviated version of what I was up to today:
Matt and I started out with checking out Scharen (we check fluids and visually inspect the vehicles once a day) and filling it up with a load of fuel, drove out to Willy where we split up for a bit. Matt and David (who's on AM pits) took care of Willy pits while John (also AM pits) and I drove Scharen out to Pegasus to fuel up the generator out there. Got back and switched out with David, then Matt and I fueled up a few planes before lunch (dinner for normal people.) Fueled up the generator and a few other things at Willy, then rolled back to Mactown in Delta Scharen. When we got back to McMurdo, tanker offload was chugging smoothly along. They had already pumped well over a million gallons of jet fuel and had (I believe, not positive though) finished up with pumping our mogas (regular unleaded gasoline) order. While we were out at Willy, the Krasin had pulled in beside the Gianella. Matt, Lisa, Jennifer (one of our two winterovers who just arrived a few days ago,) and I ran around to help making people comfortable in their various posts around town - delivered hot water, tea, snacks, sleeping bags, etc. Spent a fair amount of time checking up on potential issues that our offload helper GAs had found, but thankfully didn't run across anything to be concerned about. Subbed in with people so that they could get a break to eat midrats (lunch, but for nightshift people,) ate dinner, then got to the computer kiosk.

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