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Navy Cargo Handlers Support Operation Deep Freeze

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070209-13
Release Date: 2/9/2007 12:55:00 PM

By Lt. Karin R. Burzynski, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group

MCMURDO STATION, Antarctica (NNS) -- Seventy Sailors are in Antarctica conducting cargo handling operations in support of “Operation Deep Freeze,” the annual resupply mission for the National Science Foundation from Feb. 4-12.

The Sailors are from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB) 1 of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex in Williamsburg, Va.

Here at McMurdo, the Sailors work around the clock in two 12-hour shifts off-loading and loading a Military Sealift Command-contracted cargo ship, MV American Tern. The Antarctic’s summer month of February provides continuous sunlight, which contributes to mission safety and efficiency.

Information Technician Specialist 2nd Class Latosha Golden is spending her 12-hour duty days as a recorder, tracking cargo coming off the ship.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Golden said. “It’s hard work, amazing and fun.”

For more than 50 years the National Science Foundation has relied on the highly skilled Navy cargo handlers to ensure safe delivery of life-sustaining cargo for its research scientists and residents at McMurdo Station.

Lt. Mike Bethany participated in Operation Deep Freeze last year and returns this year as the detachment officer in charge.

“This is a great opportunity for us to train in very cold weather,” Bethany said. “Especially, if we would have to deploy to a place like Korea in the winter.”

The Navy provides an essential element of support, said David Bresnahan, National Science Foundation representative.

“We could not off-load as safely as possible and as rapidly (with commercial cargo handers),” Bresnahan said. “The commercial type operators don’t like to work 12 hours a day.”

Deploying to Antarctica, despite the 12 hour workdays, is a sought-after mission by the cargo handlers.

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 U.S. Antarctica Program.

According to Rear Adm. Sharon Redpath, commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group, all the services participating in Operation Deep Freeze play a vital role and work as a team in supporting the National Science Foundation in Antarctica.

“Advance coordination efforts with all the players have paid big dividends in the safe, smooth and efficient startup of the off-loading of the vessel,” Redpath said.

NCHB 1 is the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group’s active duty cargo handling battalion and is part of the Navy’s newest Echelon Type III command, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

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