Process to Build a New Pier at McMurdo Station Begins
Project Aims to Provide Long-Term Vessel Offload/Onload Infrastructure at McMurdo
August 1, 2023
The National Science Foundation's U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) has begun work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to design, build, deliver, and install a floating barge pier at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
The barge pier is designed to be 100ft wide and 328ft long and will remain permanently moored in Winter Quarters Bay once delivered in February 2026. This project will replace the decades long practice of building and maintaining an ice pier, which has become increasingly unreliable due to changes in sea ice in the region. In 2012, a U.S. Army Modular Causeway System (MCS) was incorporated into the annual vessel resupply operation due to a failed ice pier. This practice was repeated in the 2019/2020 season and again in 2022/2023. Despite being a good contingency resupply option to sustain McMurdo and South Pole Stations, adding the MCS into the operation reduces the amount of available cargo space on the vessel.
The barge pier is designed to be moored with four stiff leg columns that are pinned to the barge on one side and onshore abutments on the other side. In addition, there will be two high-capacity bridges that enable a circular traffic pattern on/off the barge for trucks, trailers, loaders, and other equipment.
The new barge pier system is designed to operate for a minimum of twenty years - providing long-term vessel offload/onload infrastructure at McMurdo and eliminate the need for Army MCS contingency options that also reduce vessel capacity.
Updates about this project will continue to be posted.