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ZS8Z on Marion Island Off the Air, Science Team in Survival Mode


David Hartzenberg, ZS1BCE, on his second tour at a Marion Island research station as part of the South African National Antarctic Program for more than a year now, reports that he has been off the air as ZS8Z since last November, when generator fuel at the Transvaal Cove base was restricted to essential purposes, and he doesn’t expect to get back on the air before departing in May.

Food also is in short supply, just one functioning generator remains, and the satellite system is down most of the time. “Surviving now is our biggest challenge,” Hartzenberg said.

The South African Sunday Times reported on January 7 that the Department of Environmental Affairs told the 20+ member science team the government could not afford to send a supply ship, and counseled the researchers to tough it out at emergency quarters.

The situation has led to frayed tempers, the newspaper reported, with one team member turning violent. An Indian relief ship is reported to be on the way with food and fuel.

The newspaper said the Department of Environmental Affairs played down the seriousness of the situation, claiming the reported unhinged team member was “suffering strain,” and that the provisioning calamity was an inventory error that resulted in canned food going out of date. A vessel from South Africa is expected in April for the crew change-over. — Thanks to Southgate Amateur Radio News via Tom Morgan, ZS1AFS, and to The Daily DX