Vale- Jim (James) Edward Bleasel
It is with great sadness that I write to let you know former Director of the AAD, Jim Bleasel, died in the Royal Hobart Hospital over the weekend.
Jim (James Edward Bleasel) headed the Division from 1984-1988. He oversaw a high-tempo period of the Division’s history, with a major rebuilding program and increased scientific activity.
During his tenure shipping was a big focus. The AAD chartered the Icebird alongside the long-serving Nella Dan to help transport the cargo and equipment needed for the station rebuilds. But in 1987 the Nella Dan dragged anchor at Macquarie Island and was driven aground. She was irreparably damaged and eventually scuttled off the Island. It was also during Jim’s Directorship that the decision to build our current icebreaker, Aurora Australis, was made.
Jim spearheaded a push to expand Australia’s presence in Antarctica, establishing a number of small summer stations, including Law Base in the Larsemann Hills, Edgeworth David Base in the Bunger Hills, and a hut at Cape Denison, near Mawson’s Huts.
With a background in engineering, specialising in electronics and communication, Jim was particularly keen to improve the communication systems in Antarctica. In 1984 the first satellite link, INMARSAT, was established to Mawson station and quickly extended to Davis, Casey, and Macca. By the 1990’s all stations were linked to head office and Australia by telephone.
Jim also introduced long-term planning, improved recruitment practices including the first female Station Leader, the RTA of rubbish and a new science research grants scheme administered by an Antarctic Science Advisory Committee.
He retired as Director of the Division in 1988.
A Service for Jim will be held at St Mary’s Cathedral, Harrington Street, Hobart on Wednesday (February 6, 2019) at 1.00 pm.
Email received from Rob Bryson, General Manager, AAD, via Jan Adolph, 4/02/19
I’m sad to forward this message on to you about the death of Jim Bleasel.
From my perspective Jim was always very friendly, sociable and supportive. I can remember some great “End of Voyage” dinners on the Nella Dan and Icebird with him too!
Email received from Jan Adolph, 4/02/19