Emergency food rations

These are barrels you don't want to be opening, but if things go south, it’s nice to know they’re there.

Emergency food barrel packing for the Antarctic voyage

Earlier this week, one of the most important parts of Tangaroa’s Antarctic voyage preparation was meticulously carried out at NIWA Wellington – barreling up the emergency rations. 

Emergency rations are carried on every voyage to the white continent. Kept in buoyant watertight barrels, the stock of rations includes freeze-dried and non-perishable items. The barrels can be deployed overboard at a moment's notice or, time permitting, loaded onto Tangaroa's life rafts. 

Why are emergency rations carried? Because Antarctica is remote, unforgiving and not highly trafficked by other vessels.

Every so often, even when taking all precautions, vessels occasionally get trapped in the ice, usually caused by fast changes in ice flows driven by the weather. Over the years, many research organisations have suffered this fate. Usually, vessels can eventually be freed or rescued by ice breakers or by natural changes in the ice and weather conditions.

For the record, emergency food rations have never had to be used while Tangaroa has visited Antarctica. Let’s hope they never are!

This season’s science voyage exploring the effects of climate change in the Ross Sea is scheduled to leave on 8 January – returning six weeks later.

Watch Amelia Connell from NIWA Vessels give us the low-down on packing rations in this 30-second clip from Coasts & Oceans Communications Lead Pascale Otis.