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Wayne Mills N7NG
Martti Laine OH2BH

We are pleased to announce that we have made an informal agreement with Wayne Mills N7NG and Martti Laine OH2BH to lead the Heard Island radio team. They will have complete authority and responsibility to build the team, interface with the DXing community, manage radio operations on Heard Island, and other matters relating to the radio part of the expedition. Matters that concern the entire expedition such as safety, schedule, vessel, logistics, communications, facilities, and finances remain the responsibility of the Expedition Leader, Robert Schmieder. A formal agreement will be completed in the near future that specifies these various roles and responsibilities. We will provide more information as we move forward, and in the meantime we invite you to look at the blog on our DXpedition website


During the stay on Heard Island, we will carry out a full-service all-band, all-mode amateur radio operation using the callsign VKØEK. We expect to log as many as 150,000 individual contacts, operating from two sites: Atlas Cove and Spit Bay. In addition, we will use DXA3, the latest version of the real-time online log server that was used successfully on the Kure Atoll K7C (2005) and Clipperton Island TX5K (2013) DXpeditions. DXA enables DXers to get confirmation of their contact within 1 minute, thereby eliminating the need for insurance contacts. DXA is fully described in the book by KK6EK.

We have been building the radio team over the past year, and we have more than half the projected 20 participants committed. Unfortunately, in the past two months five team members withdrew, including the team leader, citing conflicts or the desire to participate in a shorter, less challenging DXpedition. This circumstance has relatively suddenly left us short of a team leader and committed operators, and therefore we have decided to completely re-organize the radio team. The first step is to identify a new team leader who is widely respected in the DXing community and experienced with organizing and leading DXpeditions to rare locations. The new team leader will have the authority and responsibility for rebuilding the radio team and for managing the amateur radio operations on Heard Island. As we make progress, we will announce developments concerning the radio team here, and on the website.

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We are pleased to announce that Cordell Expeditions has reached a tentative agreement with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for use of the vessel S. A. Agulhas for the 2016 Heard Island Expedition. Formerly it serviced the South African National Antarctic Program (SANAP) research bases: Gough Island, Marion Island, and SANAE IV in Antarctica. With the commissioning of the new Agulhas II in 2012, the S. A. Agulhas was designated for training and research cruises.

Specifications: gross weight 6123 tons; length 367 ft., beam 60 ft.; electrical 4.5 MW; max. speed 14 kt., range 17,000 nm; crew 40, complement 138.

With the use of the Agulhas, many aspects of the Expedition are greatly enhanced. Foremost is the safety and reliability of the vessel; it is designed and proven for operation in the Southern Ocean. It is equipped with heavy-lifting cranes, four laboratories, helicopter deck, and 8000 m3 of cargo space. The vessel will remain with us at Heard Island, providing support, personnel exchange, and emergency response.

We have been allocated 40 berths, which we will divide about equally between the scientific team and the communications (mostly amateur radio) team. Also onboard will be 80 cadets undergoing training for maritime service, and we look forward to working with them. Because of the larger team, we are able to shorten the stay on the island to 20 days, making the entire voyage from Cape Town and return 45 days, rather than 55 as previously planned. This enables us to carry out a full-service, all-band, all-mode amateur radio DXpedition, using the callsign VKØEK.

The vessel will depart from Cape Town, South Africa in late December, 2015, for the 12-day cruise directly to Heard Island. It is expected that the entire stay at the island will be during January 2016, with return to Cape Town in February.

Currently we have room for additional team members, and we welcome inquiries from potential participants. We estimate that the participant cost will be roughly $15k, all-inclusive (Cape Town→HI→Cape Town). We have established local teams in the San Francisco Bay Area and in South Africa to help plan and coordinate the expedition. We would welcome help with any aspect of this project.

The expedition website is and the DXpedition website is

For more information, please contact the organizer and expedition leader: Dr. Robert W. Schmieder, KK6EK,, or co-organizer Rich Holoch, KY6R,


Co-Organizer Rich Holoch KY6R has created the website, for the 2016 Heard Island DXpedition, shown here:

This website will be the repository of all the information about the DXpedition, i.e., the amateur radio operations. The parent site will continue with the full expedition information, especially the scientific projects.


The local Facilities, Supplies, and Logistics team went through a full erection and evaluation of the candidate shelters for the expedition. The shelters are made for the U.S. Army, and are called AirBeam. They measure 20 x 20 ft. inside dimension, and are inflatable using an ordinatary air compressor. Two men can erect one of these shelters in less than 30 minutes. The great advantages over shelters used previously are the quick erection and the larger floor space, which means fewer shelters and faster erection, a distinct advantage in the possibly difficult weather on Heard Island. The shelter fits in a fiber container about 2x3x6 ft.

Pictured above:  Jim Nicastro KI6SDF, Peter Hoffman W6DEI, Rich Holoch KY6R, Aaron Williamson, Jack Burris K6JEB. Photo: Bob Schmieder, KK6EK


We are pleased to announe the addition to the team of Jacquelyn Gill, Asst. Professor at the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine. Dr. Gill's specialty is paleoecology and biogeography. Her current projects involve novel plant communities and ecostystems, the ecological consequences of extinctions, plant community assembly and disassembly, Quaternary extinctions, and plant migration and dispersal.See her brief resume here.


We are pleased to announe the addition to the team of Prof. Jasmine Saros, Assoc. Director Climate Change Institute and School of Biology, University of Maine. Prof. Jasmine's main research interests involve paleolimnology and phytoplankton ecology. She uses diatom fossil records in lake sediments to reconstruct environmental change over time. See her brief resume here.


We are pleassed to announce the addition to the team of Mike Waskiewicz. Mike is an ice core driller and meteorologist who has spent 25 years of his life working and experiencing places on the Planet where ice is a dominant feature, including the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, and the high mountains of Canada, Alaska and Chile, meeting and working with great people and sharing love of the Planet.See his brief resume here.


We are pleased to announe the addition of Dr. Gino Casassa to the expedition team. He is one of the leading Chilean glacial scientists. He was among the first to point out that glaciers are in danger due to global warming. He was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ), which was co awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2007. His merits in science earned him a scholarship from the Guggenheim Foundation in 2005, the award for the most outstanding researcher awarded by the Chilean Committee for the International Hydrological Programme UNESCO), and the Research Award of the Humboldt Foundation. See his brief resume here.


We are very pleased to announe the addition of Prof. Paul Mayewski to the expedition team. Paul 's current position is Director and Professor, Climate Change Institute, School for Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine. He was the leader of more than 50 expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau, Tierra del Fuego, Southern Ocean, and the Andes, and has made many Transantarctic Mountain first ascents and over 25,000 km of surface traverse over unexplored Antarctic territory. He has more than 350 peer-reviewed publications, including two books on global climate change, and many honors. Paul will assemble a team of scientists to carry out glacial ice drilling and other explorations, as part of the exploratory biology group. See his brief resume here.


We are very pleased to announe the appointment of Dr. Eric Woehler, University of Tasmania, as the Group Leader for the science group of the expedition. He has had a distinguished career in Antarctic science, including multiple visits to Heard Island. He is the co-editor (with Ken Green) of Heard Island: Southern Ocean Sentinel:, the definitive compilation of scientific knowledge of the Heard Island. His specialty is birds, and is recognized as one of the prime forces for conservation and a sustainable environment. Eric will help build the team for the biology exploration. See his brief resume here.


After considerable discussion and planning, the team has decided to reschedule the Expedition for Jan. 2016. This decision resulted from several factors:

1. Many members of the team are committed to completing other projects (including expeditions) during 2014, so would be challenged to properly prepare for the Heard Island expedition during 2014.

2. Participants in academic institutions need an academic cycle to arrange support, and foundations and other major sponsors need at least one year to process requests for major grants.

This decision could not have been made earlier, because as the Project developed it was necessary to make a trip to Hobart, Tasmania, to discuss it with staff at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). That meeting, in Nov. 2013, enabled us to make decisions on the central theme, purpose, and goal of the Expedition, as described in the documents available on this website, as well as make commitments for the expedition vessel.

We are in a very vigorous growth portion of the Project, so we invite you to check in here often to see the current status.


Over the past month we have been concentrating on building the Communications team (cf., Team). Today the local (San Francisco Bay Area) group assembled to welcome new team members and to develop plans. Adam Brown K2ARB, veteran of previous Antarctic expeditions, was appointed Assistant Expedition Leader (Communications). He will be responsible for ensuring that the expedition has full-capability local, satellite, and radio communications. Tom Schiller N6BT took responsiblity for designing and producing radio antennas. Rich KY6R took responsiblity for operations at Spit Bay; he will also develop a web discussion group for the team. Dean N6BV will do radio propagation calculations using his state-of-the-art High Frequency Terrain Assessment (HFTA) software. Benjamin Weiland took up team building for Field Assistants. Others in the group will work on fundraising, station design and operating strategy, logistics, and public relations.

Pictured above:  (Front row) Adam Brown N2ARB, Rich Holoch KY6R, Tom Schiller N6BT, Jim Nicastro KI6SDF, Peter Hoffman W6DEI, Jack Burris K6JEB. (Back row) Eduardo Gonzales-Fuentes K6EGF, Rich Seifert KE1B, Jim Colletto N6TQ, Bob Schmieder KK6EK, Paul Ewing N6PSE, Benjamin Weiland. Not pictured: Dean Straw N6BV, John Miller K6MM, Jacob Brown KC2ACR, and Daniel Collins.

1 Feb. 2014 PROJECT DESCRIPTION  v 2.3

Today we release the Project Description v 2.3 for the Heard Island Expedition. This revised version was developed after the meeting between Expedition Organizer/Leader Robert Schmieder and officials at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) in November, 2013. As anticipated, this revision was for the purpose of focusing the purpose and goals of the expedition. The following statement on p. 2 provides the precis of the Project:

The primary purpose of the Project is to enhance our understanding of biodiversity in an extremely isolated, extremely severe ecosystem. Heard Island is a large (15 x 28 mi) subantarctic island with an extensively glaciated active 9000-ft. volcano. While the megafauna (e.g., seals and penguins) and megaflora (e.g., mosses, grasses) are well-documented and the limited diversity is well-described, it is almost certain that unknown macrobiota are extant on the island. The Expedition will concentrate on discovering unknown organisms in the range 0.1-10 mm. Extending the known species list will enable better understanding of the effects of global climate change.

The compelling reason for the Expedition is that Heard Island has no recognized human-introduced species. This implies that the existing biodiversity is predominantly due to natural causes, primarily the rise in global temperature that is generally driving world populations poleward. Heard Island is particularly sensitive to such temperature change. Thus, we have an extraordinary opportunity to separate the effects of global warming from the effects of human transport, and this could be a significant step in our ability to predict and manage the future of the Earth's biosphere.

We are in the process of building the team. Currently the communications team is almost complete, so now we will be developing the scientfiic team, the group that will search for unknown species. Concurrently, we are beginning to make contacts for major sponsorship.

Robert W. Schmieder, PhD
4295 Walnut Blvd.
Walnut Creek, California 94596 USA

(925) 934-3735 (voice and fax)
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Copyright © 2014 Robert W. Schmieder All rights reserved. Last update: Saturday, July 26, 2014