MSC delivers support to Operation Deep Freeze 2013 – part two

The following blog post was written by Sarah Burford, MSC Pacific public affairs, and is the second in a series highlighting MSC’s role in Operation Deep Freeze (ODF) 2013. The purpose of ODF is to provide logistical support to the U.S. Antarctic Program via Department of Defense assets. MSC has supported ODF since McMurdo Station was established in 1955, providing supplies and fuel to scientists operating from the remote base.

MSC-chartered container ship MV Ocean Giant and MSC-chartered tanker ship Maersk Peary arrived at McMurdo Station for cargo offloads in support of MSC’s annual resupply mission in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the annual Joint Task Force Support for Antarctica mission to resupply the remote scientific outpost. 

Maersk Peary, arrived at the remote Antarctica base Feb. 8 and began offloading its fuel cargo Feb. 10. 

In addition to providing 100 percent of the diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline needed for the sustainment of the station through the harsh winter period, Maersk Peary also provided fuel for the United States Science Foundation’s chartered scientific research vessel R/V Nathan B. Palmer and the ice-breaker I/B Vladimir Ignatyuk.

Containerized cargo off-load operations from Ocean Giant began Feb. 15.  Members of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One work around-the-clock offloading nearly 7 million pounds of supplies such as frozen and dry food stores, building materials, vehicles, and electronic equipment and parts; 80 percent of the materials needed for the winter over period.

While North America endures the winter season, Antarctica is in the middle of its summer; an unseasonably warm summer this year, where temperatures have reached as high as 30 degrees Fahrenheit some days; up from the average temperatures of 11-14 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Warmer temperatures this year have made passage through a 15-mile ice channel into McMurdo Sound very easy for ships, but flooding on the airstrips have made landing planes with personnel and supplies challenging.  Even with the warmer temperatures, personnel working on the ice are still facing arduous conditions; especially those who have traveled from warm climates such as those in Southern California and Hawaii.

“The wind is very harsh but we’re fortunate that the entire crew doesn’t have to be out on the deck to discharge the cargo, explained Larry Larsson, an MSC Military Transportation Specialist from San Diego who’s supervising cargo operations at McMurdo Station. 

“High winds are forecasted for the next couple of days, which will impact us greatly. Today is bitter cold. The wind is blowing at 30-35mph with an ambient temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -27 Fahrenheit. Temperatures like that make you feel like you’ve gobbled down a large bowl of ice cream. Your face numbs immediately and your head pounds like you’ve hit yourself with a hammer. Even wearing the extreme foul weather gear the winds find the weakest spot of your clothing and bite at your skin,” he said. 

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