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Custom components support modernisation of Rothera Wharf in Antarctica

Jul 30, 2019

The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP), will support Britain’s world-leading science capability, upgrading the buildings and ports for the global community of scientists in the Polar region.

It will also help Britain maintain its position at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research.

Construction work of the new wharf at Rothera, for the largest British Research Survey (BAS) station is underway.  The new 74-metre long wharf will be bigger and stronger than the current one, allowing for the safe berthing and efficient operations for the new polar research vessel and its cargo, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, in 2020.

All construction work, which is being managed by main contractor BAM, needs to be carried out in a controlled manner, avoiding damage to the environment and disruption to ongoing global science and research work. Careful planning and collaboration was essential to meet the challenges faced, including the extreme conditions of one of the world’s coldest, windiest, most remote locations.

As part of the construction, BAM are building the foundation steel beams for the new wharf structure, which have to be installed in parallel. To enable steelwork assembly, PERI is supplying a customised, lateral bracing system. The special solution comprises SLS spindles, integrated with base plates, which will prevent the beams from moving.

As per BAM’s requirement, the solution was designed to integrate with the existing holes in the beam webs. PERI achieved this by fabricating customised base plates, as the standard base plate was not able to accommodate the holes in the beam, as well as the spindles, and transferring the required lateral loads.

The customised steel base plates have been designed to accommodate site conditions and withstand temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius. In addition, PERI’s technical and engineering team had to make sure that plate bolts were easily accessible when in operation (due to the very big beam flange sizes), particularly during installation and when adjusting the entire solution in line with the holes in the beam.

The AIMP will transform British Antarctic Survey frontier science. The investment supports technical advancements and together with the commissioning of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, this modernisation programme represents the largest Government investment in polar science infrastructure since the 1980s.