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Maiden Voyage to Antarctic Station.pdf

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					The Antarctic observation ship Shirase, a          line of Antarctic observation ships carrying the
12,500-ton state-of-the-art icebreaker, success-   same name, this was her maiden voyage. Fitted
fully reached Showa Station, Japan’s Antarctic     with an array of advanced equipment, includ-
observation post, on January 10, 2010. At the      ing a feature that allows it to discharge seawa-
tail end of the voyage two months after leaving    ter from the bow onto the ice-covered sea to
Japan, the Shirase had to struggle to forge its    facilitate icebreaking, the ship has world-class
way through thick ice and snow cover in the        icebreaking capabilities allowing it to cruise at
Antarctic Ocean that impeded the ship’s land-      three knots while plowing through 1.5-meter-
ing. After unloading fuel, food and equipment      thick ice.
for the 51st observation party, the Shirase will     However, the Antarctic Ocean was covered
return home with members of the group that it      with ice reaching 3 meters in places this year. It
is replacing.                                      made the going slow as the Shirase had to
  For the Shirase, the fourth generation in a      forge the route to Showa Station by repeating




TOP ICS         Icebreaker Shirase




Maiden Voyage
to Antarctic Station


026              through images
a practice that is called ramming—moving            on global climate change, the observation party
backward, then surging forward with added           will set up an astronomical observatory—com-
speed to slam into the ice cover and break          plete with a radio telescope with a dish 10
open a path through the ice. The ship had to        meters in diameter—at Dome Fuji, an inland
do this more than 2,000 times.                      base at an altitude of 3,810 meters. The party
 Members of the 51st observation party, who         aims to collect more meteorites than any
boarded the Shirase in Fremantle, Australia,        foreign party. They are also mulling a plan to
were flown in advance to Showa Station by           broadcast              lessons           for   elementary       school
helicopter from about 70 kilometers off the         children back in Japan from the Antarctic. Of
coast, waiting on site for the Shirase to unload    the 62-member observation party, 28 members
gear necessary for full-scale observation work.     will stay at Showa Station through the winter
 In addition to continuing to collect Antarctic     and continue with their research activities until
data to add to the growing library of research      March 2011.




                                                   The Shirase icebreaker approaches the Showa Station Antarctic
                                                   observation base. Its progress impeded by unusually thick ice, the
                                                   ship had to repeatedly ram the ice to arrive at the station.
                                                                                                              Photo: Pool

                                                                  On the Internet

                                                    http://www.nipr.ac.jp/english/




                                                   February 2010         Vol.3       No.10               through images
                                                                                                                          027

				
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