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AJ Engineering team, Forres to work on Rothera Research Station in Antartica

By Garry McCartney

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Paul Briggs and Ross Jack will be heading out to Antarctica on behalf of AJ Engineering.
Paul Briggs and Ross Jack will be heading out to Antarctica on behalf of AJ Engineering.

A TEAM from a local engineering and construction firm is set to work on its most remote job yet.

Twelve workers from AJ Engineering and Construction Services, Forres, are heading to the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) remote Rothera Research Station in Antartica where temperatures can plunge as low as -34C.

AJE director, Graham Alexander, confirmed the cladders and steel erectors will be working on behalf of BAM Nuttall who recently secured a 10-year, £500m contract to upgrade and extend BAS polar research stations.

He said: "It’s fantastic to be involved in a project of this scale, particularly with regard to the station’s work on climate change. The work BAS carry out at Rothera has an impact worldwide."

He added: "In remote locations, it’s the amount of pre-planning and logistics that make the difference between success and failure.

"We are very lucky to have project engineer Rob Williamson working with us. He is a former regimental sergeant major with the Royal Engineers and it’s those skills that have been brought to the fore in the planning of this project.

"AJE has extensive experience in working in remote locations. The team that are going are extremely skilled and have taken all of the training in their stride."

Leading on the project are steel erectors and cladders Ross Jack (43) and Paul Briggs (46), due to leave Forres this month on the 8000-mile journey expected to take over 20 days.

Ross said: "I’m a former soldier so I am used to being away from my family. I'm not worried about the work at all."

Paul added: "We couldn’t be doing this without the support of our families. It's going to be an extraordinary experience."

The team have had to undergo extra training in personal survival techniques and also undergone stringent medical and dental checks. Their deployment to Rothera is the start of a three-year project for AJE.

Cladders have already begun travelling to Rothera, which includes a 14 day isolation period and a 25 day journey on the UK’s newest polar exploration vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

The 129-metre icebreaker is operated by BAS and is one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world. It is built to accommodate a multidisciplinary scientific team.

The team will spend at least six months at Rothera and will carry out various tasks including erecting steel and installing the cladding on the new ‘Discovery Building’ which will replace the current science and operations building.

In 2017, AJE was contracted to create a steel platform installed on Bird Island, South Georgia in Antarctica. No employees were sent but instead carried out a mock-up of the installation with BAM Nuttall.

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