Operators Needed: Herd Island Expedition

(Early 2016)





 We are pleased to announce that Cordell Expeditions has reached a tentative agreement with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for use of the vessel S. A. Agulhas for the 2016 Heard Island Expedition. Formerly it serviced the South African National Antarctic Program (SANAP) research bases: Gough Island, Marion Island, and SANAE IV in Antarctica. With the commissioning of the new Agulhas II in 2012, the S. A. Agulhas was designated for training and research cruises.


Specifications: gross weight 6123 tons; length 367 ft., beam 60 ft.; electrical 4.5 MW; max. speed 14 kt., range 17,000 nm; crew 40, complement 138


With the use of the Agulhas, many aspects of the Expedition are greatly enhanced. Foremost is the safety and reliability of the vessel; it is designed and proven for operation in the Southern Ocean. It is equipped with heavy-lifting cranes, four laboratories, helicopter deck, and 8000 m3 of cargo space. The vessel will remain with us at Heard Island, providing support, personnel exchange, and emergency response.


We have been allocated 40 berths, which we will divide about equally between the scientific team and the communications (mostly amateur radio) team. Also onboard will be 80 cadets undergoing training for maritime service, and we look forward to working with them. Because of the larger team, we are able to shorten the stay on the island to 20 days, making the entire voyage from Cape Town and return 45 days, rather than 55 as previously planned. This enables us to carry out a full-service, all-band, all-mode amateur radio DXpedition, using the callsign VKØEK.


The vessel will depart from Cape Town, South Africa in late December, 2015, for the 12-day cruise directly to Heard Island. It is expected that the entire stay at the island will be during January 2016, with return to Cape Town in February.


Currently we have room for additional team members, and we welcome inquiries from potential participants. We estimate that the participant cost will be roughly $15k, all-inclusive (Cape Town→HI→Cape Town). We have established local teams in the San Francisco Bay Area and in South Africa to help plan and coordinate the expedition. We would welcome help with any aspect of this project.


The expedition website is www.heardisland.org and the DXpedition website is www.VK0EK.org.


For more information, please contact the organizer and expedition leader: Dr. Robert W. Schmieder, KK6EK, schmieder@cordell.org or co-organizer Rich Holoch, KY6R, rholoch@comcast.net .