Antarctic voyage: Survival training

By Guest Author 04/02/2013

Dr Helen Bostock, marine geologist at NIWA, writes:

What would we do if the ship sank?

Before we leave the dock, we have all been through several hours of survival training and a ship safety tour.

For this voyage, we spent a couple of hours with a very experienced Antarctic field trainer, Brian Staite. During this session we went through the survival gear we are taking with us.

Personal survival kit. Credit: Helen Bostock

Each person will get a survival bag with warm clothes, ski goggles, some chocolateand a field survival guide. Then pairs of us have a large box with a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, a stove and other such useful items, and a barrel of food.

Inside the barrel. Credit: Helen Bostock

There is also a satellite phone and a radio for the whole group. The idea is that, should we have to get off on to the sea ice near the coast of Antarctica, we can survive for up to 5 days before someone comes to rescue us.

Daniel 2nd mate showing how to release the lifeboat. Credit: Helen Bostock
Fiona in a life jacket

On the  ship’s safety tour  we learned about  how to stay safe on the ship, different alarms, man overboard procedures, breathing apparatus and fighting fires, how to deploy a life boat, and we also practice getting into a survival dry suit. While the crew are all trained in this stuff, we will be required to help out in an emergency.

Over the next few days while we are in transit to our first station, we will be doing lots of safety drills – man overboard, fire drill, abandon ship and so forth. This is so we know what to do when the real thing happens.

Hopefully we won’t need to put any of it into practise!