Traversing Antarctica Powered by Cat®

The Client: William Adams

Science in the Antarctic interior is a logistical challenge with long distances, freezing temperatures, shifting ice and extreme winds. But Australian scientists are helping search for the holy grail – glacial ice that formed over a million years ago – that can provide insight into past climate and to help better predict future changes.

The Background

In 2016, the Australian Government committed to re-establish the overland traverse capability and drill for a million-year ice core. To help meet this objective, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is developing a modern, deep-field traverse capability to transport people and equipment across the continent to drill sites where a mobile inland station is established. Scientists will then spend 4-5 summers drilling down 3,000 metres into the ice cap to collect ice cores.

The Solution

For two decades, William Adams have been working with AAD operations. This latest project enlisted the support of EPSA with the supply six made-to-order Cat® C18 AG spec engines for the re-powering of five Challenger MT865Es and one spare engine. Supply and delivery were over a five-month period with the first engine flown in from the US and the balance arriving by surface freight. “These machines were extensively modified for Antarctica’s extreme conditions by our Hobart-based team before their journey to Antarctica,” says Mark Wiggins, Business Manager Antarctica at William Adams.

The Results

“We’re thrilled to help enable the AAD to deploy scientists and support teams to some of the most remote and extreme parts of Antarctica. With a combined 2,600 horsepower, the tractors are capable of towing an entire mobile research station deep inland, with food supplies, accommodation, scientific facilities, power generation and up to 60,000 litres of fuel,” says Wiggins. “With the ability to reach up to 1,500 kilometres inland, the first traverse from Australia’s Casey research station is planned for the Antarctic summer 2020–21.”