AntarcticaArchiveartefactGough IslandMarion Island

Day 11 of a 21-Day Journey through the ALSA Digital Repository: Communications in an Isolated Environment.

Communication is a crucial element of survival when you are based at one of the SANAP stations for more than a year. Previous there was no internet and communication was only by telex and radio. In the modern ear there are new options such as email, WhatsApp and more. BUT this will only be possible if the communications engineer carries out all his tasks.  Overwintering teams include a Communications engineer on every team at SANAE, Marion Island and Gough Island. The Communication Engineer is responsible for the operation, maintenance, fault-finding on and repairs of all the communication services and equipment of the Base including the satellite, radio, IT, GPS, alarm and telephone systems.

The first Post Office on Marion Island was run by Alan Crawford and  built with the help of the Department of Public works and Tristan Islanders. The SANAE Post office in previous year was where team members could find their telexes form home. In the Image is Dries Niemandt of SANAE 10, waiting for mail at SANAE’s Post Office. Mail consisted of messages communicated via Morse code to the radio operator, which he then transcribed for his team members.

Marion Island have field huts on the island and when researchers do field work they can contact the station from the hut. (left) Image of Christiaan Conradie making contact with Marion base from a field hut. Right is the VHF tower at SANAE on Antarctica.

The journey through the archive let you find images of the people that fulfill the role as communications engineer (previously called radio operator or communication technician). There is also telexes received and collection of envelopes stamped with the station official stamp.  Gideon Rossouw contributed a large collection of envelopes from the Gough Island and only a few is displayed in the article

To learn more about the work of the Communications engineer, click on the link for an interview.

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