Cargo Handlers Complete ‘Deep Freeze’ Mission On Time

Although only partially Coast Guard related, I came across this article by Navy Lt. Karin R. Burzynski about Deep Freeze and thought I’d share it. Having never been involved in polar icebreaking operations, I had no idea what was involved, other than “replenishment”.

MCMURDO STATION, Antarctica (NNS) — Sailors completed cargo handling operations on schedule Feb. 11, for “Operation Deep Freeze,” the annual resupply mission for the National Science Foundation in McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

A detachment of 70 Sailors from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1 in Williamsburg, Va., offloaded 10.4 million tons of cargo, then turned around and backloaded 9.6 million tons of cargo during their deployment to McMurdo.

Lt. Mike Bethany is the detachment officer in charge. “We took our lessons learned from last year and incorporated them into this year’s mission preparation,” Bethany said. “The pre-staging plan expedited the backload from last year or years past.”

The off-loading operations began Feb. 4 when the Military Sealift Command-contracted ship M/V American Tern (T-AK-4729) arrived and was tied up to the ice pier. The Sailors offloaded 646 containers and breakbulk items. Backloading of 583 containers and breakbulk items began Feb. 7.

In addition to retrograde and scientific material being shipped off the continent, many of the 583 shipping containers contain trash and waste. In order to maintain the pristine environment of the continent, international treaty stipulates nothing can be left behind. All trash and waste is containerized, removed and transported off the continent.

The Sailors worked around the clock in two 12-hour shifts to complete this mission. February in Antarctica provides continuous sunlight, which contributes to mission safety and efficiency.

NCHB-1 commanding officer, Cmdr. Vincent Clifton is proud of the way the detachment conducted the mission.

“The Sailors did an outstanding job completing the mission safely and efficiently, in an arduous environment, temperatures as low as 3 degrees and wind chill minus 14 degrees,” Clifton said. “The coordinated effort and support of the Coast Guard, Air Force, Air National Guard, the New Zealand Defense Force, Raytheon and the National Science Foundation contributed to the success of the mission.”

Operation Deep Freeze is the name given to the operations conducted by the Coast Guard, Air Force, and Navy to provide operational and logistics support to the National Science Foundation’s United States Antarctica Program.

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