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Cargo Handlers Complete 'Deep Freeze' Mission On Time

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070212-01
Release Date: 2/12/2007 9:40:00 AM


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

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.

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.

Using the Navy cargo handlers for this resupply mission is ideal, according to National Science Foundation representative at McMurdo Station, David Bresnahan.

“It’s very effective for us. It’s good training for the Navy. They go everywhere in the world. This is what they do. It’s perfect for us,” Bresnahan said.

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.

NCHB-1 is the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group’s active duty cargo handling battalion and is part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

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