TGP manages biosecurity logistics to the end of the earth

The Trans Global Projects Group (TGP) has once again showcased its role as a leading biosecurity expert, completing a breakbulk delivery to one of the world’s most remote and vulnerable ecosystems: the Sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia.

Contracted by BAM, a global construction and civil engineering company, TGP was in charge of safely delivering construction equipment and materials to South Georgia island’s sensitive ecosystem. These materials will be used to modernise the British Antarctic Research Station at King Edward Point, building a new berthing facility to accommodate the newest UK polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Due to its proximity to major oceanic currents, South Georgia is a wildlife haven and the site of globally significant environmental and conservation research. As a result, it maintains particularly robust biosecurity requirements, presenting a unique challenge for shippers. This shipment to South Georgia follows TGP’s successful delivery of construction equipment and materials to Rothera Research Station, the largest British Antarctic facility, at the beginning of 2019 and precedes another voyage to Rothera in March 2020 to deliver infrastructure modernisation equipment to the Research Station.

“Our work in Antarctica last year was a tremendous success, and it further cemented TGP as an international leader in the field of biosecurity logistics,” Colin Charnock, TGP Group CEO, comments. “We are delighted that BAM recognise our know-how and chose our team to manage the challenging biosecurity logistics for this interesting project.”

Biosecurity logistics 

Past human activities have had significant impact on the flora and fauna of South Georgia, introducing numerous threatening non-native species. Between 2009 and 2018, the world’s largest island rodent eradication programme was carried out on South Georgia, ridding the island of the rats and mice that devastated its wildlife for nearly 250 years. To protect the island’s numerous at-risk species, the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) now operate a stringent post-eradication biosecurity policy for all inbound vessels and cargo. Any breach of this policy could result in delay to the vessel, incurring extensive costs in South Georgia and/or the forced return of the cargo to the UK without unloading.

To mitigate this very real risk, TGP managed a multifaceted decontamination process to ensure adherence to the GSGSSI Biosecurity Handbook.

TGP worked at a specially prepared site in Teesport, UK, to manage all aspects of the shipment’s biosecurity preparation. Firstly, all of the loading areas were deep cleaned prior to receiving the cargo. Organic insecticides and pesticides were sprayed around the facility, and a manual inspection was completed. Secondly, the cargo and containers were inspected, pressure washed and sprayed with insecticides when deemed necessary. In addition, a rodent detection dog team was employed to sniff cargo and cargo storage areas. Finally, ISPM15 compliant timber was used for export packing and dunnage.

TGP’s experts implemented similar biosecurity measures on the vessel, and an independent observer was present to further ensure no biosecurity infractions occurred.

The shipment

After the decontamination process was complete and the cargo loaded, the shipment departed Teesport on 23 December 2019. The vessel was geared with two 150 mt cranes and carried mechanical equipment and construction materials.

The Antarctic route presented numerous potential threats, including Katabatic winds at destination, which are quite common in the area. In addition, the existing berth at King Edward Point was only 24 m, yet the vessel was 138 m in length. To help manage these risks, TGP hired an ex-captain from the British Antarctic Survey familiar with navigating vessels in and out of King Edward Point to act as pilot.

The shipment safely arrived at its final destination on 16 January 2020. Discharge was efficiently carried out in just six days, and as a result, the project was completed two days ahead of schedule.

“Thanks to the diligent and tireless efforts of our team, we were able to successfully complete this project, despite particularly stringent biosecurity regulations and challenging shipping conditions,” noted Charnock. “We are very proud to have played a part in helping the British Antarctic Survey modernise their infrastructure to support world-class science for the next generation.”