Bridge Blog: Dumont d’Urville Visit
First Officer, M/Y Steve Irwin
On Friday December 18th, I was asked by our Captain to visit the French Base at Dumont d’Urville. Our skilled Helicopter Pilot Chris Aultman flew the Kookaburra over the alien landscape that is the Antarctic Coastline for approximately 50 nautical miles.
Signs of human life contrasted the white and blue landscape below. Red and Beige Buildings clustered on a small patch of rocks, radio masts and heavy equipment, a runway, and network of galvanized steel passarelles outlined the French Antarctic Station below.
Being sent to Dumont d’Urville Station in the Austral Summer was a welcome surprise, in that the base is a hive of activity during these long days.
The staff on the base, led by Marie-France Roy, treated us to a very warm welcome by offering us lunch and hanging the Sea Shepherd flag above the Tavern in support of our presence to end whaling in Antarctic waters.
We were able to post mail at the fully functioning Post Office, and bring back Antarctic Territory stamps for the crew.
An official letter from the base Chief, offering assistance and stating the French Antarctic Territory’s support of our actions in enforcing IWC Recommendations (an end to lethal cetacean research) was presented to us, and before we knew it Chris and I were gliding over the infinite shades of blue back to the ship, which Chris spotted from an impressive distance away.
The invitation to visit the Australian Base at Cape Denison the very next day reinforced the feeling that our presence in these Latitudes in defense of the Whales was truly welcome, and that the Shonan Maru No. 2, lurking five miles outside the bay, was the unwanted party crasher.