A new wharf, dolphin and slipway at King Edward Point Research Station on South Georgia in the sub-Antarctic was completed in May 2020. The new wharf was constructed to accommodate the new UK polar research ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough and to provide continued operational support to the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI).
The new £11 million wharf was commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI-NERC), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI). King Edward Point is a marine and fisheries research station is owned by the GSGSSI and operated on their behalf by British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
The new wharf was completed in just 108 days and three weeks ahead of schedule. Two years of meticulous scheduling before construction meant that the placement of every nut and bolt was planned in advance and shipped directly from the UK.
As Technical Advisor to BAS, Ramboll provided the initial concept design and was onsite to supervise the construction, while BAM developed the detailed designs and constructed the new facility, with Sweco acting as BAM’s design lead. Turner & Townsend also provided cost management for the project.
King Edward Point Wharf Construction Milestones
Benefits of the New King Edward Point Wharf
The UK’s Antarctic infrastructure is being modernised in order to support world-class science for the next generation. The new wharf will enable the RRS Sir David Attenborough to berth and undertake critical environmental research in the waters around South Georgia.
The project was joint funded between the partners: NERC £4million, FCO £4million (through the UK Government CSSF fund), GSGSSI £2.2million and BAS £0.8million
Design Features of the New Wharf
Wrap-around design: extending by 6m to the east and west, and 2m to the north and south.
T-shaped design, economical and structurally sound.
Three mooring points to maximise the position of the vessel for moving cargo on and off ships
Sinker anchor helping larger vessels berth safely
Mooring Dolphin (marine structures extending out of the water) and walkway will provide safe access for passengers.
Extended slipway for small boats to launch and dock in a wide range of tidal and wind conditions.
Protecting the Environment During Construction
Sustainable design that wraps around the existing wharf, reducing the impact of construction to the seabed and the quantity of resources and materials needed.
Monitoring wildlife around the wharf during the construction, ensuring the environment isn’t harmed by vibrations, noise or dust.
Stringent biosecurity processes to prevent any accidental introduction of new animal, insect or plant species to South Georgia.
The King Edward Point Wharf upgrade was part of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation (AIM) Programme. This long-term programme will enable a world-leading capability to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research in the Polar regions.
The aims of the King Edward Point research station modernisation project are to:
Enable safe and efficient berthing and mooring of the RRS Sir David Attenborough and other ships and the transfer of personnel and cargo
Continued and improved capability for launching, mooring and retrieving small boats including RIBs, workboats and survey boats for research purposes
Facilitate the continuous presence of GSGSSI officials on South Georgia
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