Rothera Research Station Modernisation
Rothera Research Station Modernisation
Rothera Research Station is the UK Antarctic hub for frontier science. Over the next decade, Rothera Research Station will be upgraded to ensure its facilities keep the UK at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research. This comprehensive modernisation includes a new wharf for the RRS Sir David Attenborough and a new science and operations facility, the Discovery Building.
Rothera Research Station Modernisation is part of the long-term Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation (AIM) Programme and will transform how British Antarctic Survey enables and supports polar science.
Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI-NERC), the modernisation programme represents the largest Government investment in polar science infrastructure since the 1980s.
The first phase of Rothera Research Station Modernisation was to rebuild and extend Rothera Wharf to accommodate the new and larger polar ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
Construction on the new £40m Rothera Wharf began in November 2018 and was completed by April 2020. A specialist team built the 74 metre wharf over 18 months through during the Antarctic summers (November to May).
The 50-strong team from construction partners and designers of the wharf, BAM, with the support of Sweco and technical advisors, Ramboll, completed the project. Turner & Townsend also provided cost management.
Rothera Wharf Benefits
- Accommodate and moor the new polar ship for Great Britain, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
- Bigger, deeper and stronger than the previous wharf.
- Launching small boats with a larger crane.
- A personnel gangway and a floating pontoon for the deployment of scientific instruments.
Rothera Wharf Final Season (2019-2020)
The season started in November 2019 with the team clearing 2000 tonnes of snow as the site was not operational during the dark Antarctic Winter. The wharf’s remaining 14 out of 20 steel frames that form the wharf’s skeleton were put in place and backfilled with rock, securing the structure.
The first ships, including the RRS James Clark Ross, moored at the new wharf in April 2020.
Rothera Wharf First Season (2018-2019)
During the first season, the old Biscoe wharf was taken apart in January 2019. Temporary cargo unloading and boat launch facilities were set-up. The first steel frames of the new wharf were lowered into place.
Building a new wharf in one of the world’s most remote locations presented a number of challenges. Every nut and bolt needed to be accounted for and the 4,500 tonnes of equipment was shipped 11,000 km from the UK to Antarctica.
The construction team practiced full-scale assembly of the 45 tonne steel frames in Southampton to identify unexpected challenges or additional pieces of equipment needed whilst still in the UK.
Modernisation programme aims:
- Enable frontier science to satisfy the current and predictable future demand of research communities in the UK
- Maintain the UK Antarctic regional presence in the Southern Atlantic
- Invest now to constrain future running costs of Antarctic Logistics and Infrastructure
- Enable the new polar research ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, to operate at maximum efficiency
We will achieve these aims through:
Enhancing operational efficiency
- rationalise site layout and use for optimal efficiency
- upgrade our facilities and technologies so that the research station is energy efficient and sustainable into the future
- enable efficient station relief and cargo operations with faster turnaround times, to allow both the station and the ship to maximise the time spent undertaking research and supporting UK polar science and logistics as effectively and efficiently as possible
Reducing waste and enhancing biosecurity
- improved waste management facilities to help us reduce and recycle effectively
- enhanced management of environmental biosecurity facilities to comply with the Antarctic Treaty environmental protocols effectively
Improving ship and boating operations
- rebuilding the wharf to accommodate the RRS Sir David Attenborough and reduce manual handling cargo loading/unloading time during station relief to allow the ship to spend more time on research cruises
- improve small boating facilities for marine research, including a larger crane for launching small boats, a personnel gangway and a floating pontoon for the deployment of scientific instruments such as gliders
Sustainability and environmental impact
- all new infrastructure to comply with the BREEAM tailored scheme that BAS has agreed with the Building Research Establishment and is targeting an Excellent rating
- improved energy monitoring across the whole site and strong focus on demand management to reduce energy use
- new buildings will have the highest levels of energy efficiency and thermal performance
- energy-efficient generators incorporating heat recovery to minimise our environmental impact and reduce fuel costs
- appropriate use of renewable energy technologies
Industry project delivery partners
Our in-house project management, operational and logistics teams are working closely with external partners to deliver the modernisation projects at BAS’s Antarctic research stations.
BAM Nuttall is British Antarctic Survey’s construction partner for the Rothera & Islands modernisation projects.
Partnership Operations Director
Rothera Wharf Project Manager
Project Manager – Building Works
Rothera Modernisation Project Manager
Design Team Leader
Ramboll is British Antarctic Survey’s technical advisor, supporting a number of projects in the Antarctic.
Project Manager – Buildings Works
Marine Technical Lead
Discipline Leader – Marine
Discipline Leader – MEP
23 June, 2021 by Jon Ager
Jon Ager joined British Antarctic Survey as Director of the UK Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme in 2019, after serving for almost 35 years in the Royal Air Force and aerospace …
23 June, 2021 by Katie Handford
This International Women in Engineering Day 2021, Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme Trainee Project Manager Katie Handford shares her journey into polar engineering. I started in high school designing, building and racing 24V electrically powered …
12 March, 2021 by Christopher Robert Lloyd
Christopher Robert Lloyd, Site Supervisor for Ramboll, is currently working in Antarctica constructing the new scientific support facility at Rothera, the Discovery Building. He travelled to Antarctica in December 2020 …
14 January, 2021 by Christopher Robert Lloyd
During this year’s construction season at Rothera Research Station, the team begins the second season of erecting a state-of-the-art science and operations facility, The Discovery Building. This vital piece of …
21 July, 2021
British Antarctic Survey and the partners delivering the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme are finalists for this year’s British Construction Industry (BCI) Awards in the ‘Partnership Initiative of the Year’ category. …
13 May, 2021
Award reflects project’s excellent environmental approach to biodiversity and sustainability. A new 74 metre wharf at British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station has achieved the first CEEQUAL award in …
23 March, 2021
Construction expert BAM Nuttall, with design consultants Sweco, have won a tender for a new 10-year partnership to take forward an ambitious programme to modernise the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) …
19 March, 2021
A specialist construction team is making the 11,000km journey home to the UK after successfully completing the groundworks for a new state-of-the-art polar research building at British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) …
11 January, 2021
The next stage of building a scientific support facility in Antarctica begins this week [11 January 2020]. To avoid the risk of introducing COVID-19 to British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera …
16 April, 2020
A new £40 million wharf to moor the RRS Sir David Attenborough has been used by polar ships for the first time at British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station in …
30 January, 2020
In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the first sighting of Antarctica by the British naval officer Edward Bransfield on this date in 1820, a new building to facilitate the …
16 January, 2020
Engineering, design and consultancy company Ramboll has been re-appointed as Technical Advisors for British Antarctic Survey (BAS), successfully winning the next phase of work in a series of projects to …
19 December, 2019
A major modernisation programme at British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station begins its second ‘summer season’ this month with the arrival of a 60-plus person team from BAM. Construction …
21 May, 2019
ANTARCTICA: At the onset of the Antarctic winter British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station bids farewell to 50 construction workers. They have spent the last six months building the …
13 March, 2019
A major milestone has been reached in the construction of a new wharf at Rothera Research Station. The first of 20 steel frames, forming the skeleten of the new structure, has been lowered into place in a piece of precision engineering.
14 January, 2019
First digging has begun to deconstruct the old wharf at Rothera Research Station as part of modernisation work to transform the way British Antarctic Survey delivers frontier science
18 December, 2018
British Antarctic Survey is seeking to purchase a small passenger aircraft to work alongside its de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Series 110 (Dash 7). The aircraft will transport science and support teams and cargo between Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula and Punta Arenas, Chile.
23 November, 2018
The DS Wisconsin departs for Antarctica loaded with 4,500 tonnes of kit required to build the new Rothear Wharf
26 September, 2018
The construction team responsible for building a new Antarctic wharf at Rothera Research Station have been practicing full-scale assembly of the 30 tonne steel rigs in Southampton before deployment South. …
4 January, 2017
Construction expert BAM has been chosen to partner with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to modernise UK Antarctic and other research facilities, enabling British scientists to continue delivering world class research …
26 August, 2016
Technical advisor appointment