The Coldest Journey

© Kalliope (UK) Ltd

We were invited in June 2011 to design the Caboose Units required for the 2,500 Mile (4000 Km) journey across Antarctica by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his technical advisory team, all of whom have had many years experience of Antarctic conditions.


We have constructed Caboose's for various projects in Antarctica for several organisations in the past 12 years. That design expertise and practical experience was an important foundation for the design of these unique units, which will experience the harshest conditions on earth with temperatures as low as minus 70C and high speed surface winds, making survival difficult!

Due to shipping and maximum landing weight restrictions, the units were
constructed from specially modified ISO Shipping Containers cut back to
a length of 28 ft. After extensive alteration the units were fitted out to
provide the following accommodation:


Accommodation Modules


  1. BulletFully Fitted Boot Room complete with Boot & Mitt Rack and Bench

  2. Ablutions Room with Shower, Wash/Laundry Basin, Urinal and DANFO Toilet

  3. Kitchen complete with Floor and Wall Cupboards, Microwave/Oven Cooker and Sink

  4. Food Refrigerator

  5. Medical Refrigerator

  6. Waste Compaction Unit

  7. Bench Seating Area with Table (able to be converted to Operating Table)

  8. Telecommunications and Entertainment Facilities

  9. Bullet2 sets of 3 Tier Marine Bunk Beds complete with Drawer Storage

  10. Bullet6 x Marine Clothing Lockers

  11. BulletFood Storage Room

  12. BulletPlant Room with 50 Kva Generator, 850 Ltr Fuel Tank, Battery Power System

  13. BulletSnow Melt Tank and Water Plumbing/Heating System

The design brief was developed in conjunction with the specialist advisory team, and required the design and construction of a twin section Accommodation Caboose and a separate Science & Engineering Support Caboose, each of which would be mounted on specially constructed
Lehmann Sledges. See image left.

Science & Engineering Support Module


  1. BulletFully Fitted Boot Room complete with Boot Rack and Bench

  2. BulletScience Experiment Room complete with special insulated Camera Store

  3. BulletEngineering Room complete with Work benches and Spares Storage Racking

  4. BulletPlant Room with 50 Kva Generator, 850 Ltr Fuel Tank and Battery Power System

Accommodation Module

General Notes


To assist with weight reduction, and to greatly enhance the insulation properties of the units, the standard Container plywood flooring was removed, and galvanised pressed, folded steel plates inserted to form a cavity between the structural steel joists. This was then filled with special insulation and thermal bridge stops before replacing the flooring with a lighter grade of plywood, onto which anti-slip flooring was laid.


After the completion of the major steelwork alterations, the units were spray foam insulated to ensure all voids and corrugations were covered, before being lined with timber studwork to form a thermal break before packing with insulation and final wall and ceiling cladding.


The windows are high quality triple glazed units, and the external doors and roof escape hatches were specially fabricated to include thermal breaks and are packed with insulation, and close against special rubber seals.


In addition to the 'built in' insulation, in conjunction with the specialist manufacturers, we designed a 'tea cosy' cover to fit over the top of the completed units. This has never been previously attempted, but is expected to provide a high performance insulation standard to cope with the predicted extreme temperature conditions.


All infrastructure services were installed 'surface mounted' and/or in accessible voids to make maintenance as simple as possible during the transit.


Internally, each room was fitted out with the furniture and equipment provided by over 50 specialist sponsors to satisfy the design requirements as closely as possible and to create a comfortable working and living environment for the Ice Team during the transit.


In designing these units, Kalliope would like to acknowledge the specialist input from numerous individuals, expert in their own fields, without whom the task would have been much harder and time consuming.

Handover of the completed Cabooses

The SA Algulhas set sail to Antarctica from London on 6 December 2012 carrying all our equipment.

Overnight camp en route, April 2013