USNS Paul Buck Delivers to McMurdo

May 2010

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Seafarers in late January added another chapter to their decades-long tradition of delivering life-sustaining cargo to residents of McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

As part of Operation Deep Freeze 2009-2010, the SIU crew and officers aboard the USNS Paul Buck transported and discharged more than 5.5 million gallons of diesel, gas and jet fuel at the station which is the hub of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). Deep Freeze is the Department of Defense’s support mission of the USAP Program and National Science Foundation. (A second SIU-crewed vessel, the American Tern, also delivered cargo to McMurdo during Operation Deep Freeze 2010.)

The Buck’s voyage to McMurdo originated in Port Angeles, Washington, and included stops in Korea, Guam and Australia. Operated by Ocean Shipholdings Inc. for the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC), the vessel arrived at the entrance of the ice channel leading to McMurdo during the morning hours of Jan. 22, some two months following her departure from the United States. At that point, the Paul Buck followed the Swedish icebreaker Oden through the seven and one-half-mile channel. She docked at McMurdo’s ice pier later that afternoon after skillfully confronting and negotiating several hazards posed by drifting ice.

The crew commenced cargo discharge operations at 6 a.m. Jan. 23. The final container of the Buck’s fuel shipment reached its storage destination Jan. 24 at 9:36 p.m. and cargo discharge operation was complete.

Larry Larson, MSC cargo operations officer, Sealift Logistics Command, Pacific; and Col. Paul Sheppard, commander 13th Air Expeditionary Group, Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica visited the Buck the following day. Among other items, their itinerary included the presentation of Antarctica Service Medals to members of the Buck’s crew. The medal is issued to individuals who have served 10 days or more on the Antarctic continent in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program. Three SIU members, Bosun Juan Machado-Gomez, Pumpman Craig Croft and AB Albert Wambach were among six mariners who received medals. Machado-Gomez and Croft were honored for having 16 days’ service while Wambach was recognized for having served 14 days. Each of the recognized Seafarers had three trips to the continent to their credit.

Aside from encounters with foul weather, turbulent seas and free-drifting icebergs, the Buck’s mission went off without a hitch. The vessel arrived at her destination safely and discharged its life-sustaining cargo without incident – a tribute to the professionalism, skill and training of the crew.

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Pictured directly below, members of the unlicensed crew (all Seafarers ) included (in no particular order) Bosun Juan Machado-Gomez, ABs Robert Morrison, Joseph Brown, Rhett Morgan, Randy Pasquarella and Albert Wambach, DEUs Henry Gonzalez and Forrest Melvin, Pumpman Craig Croft, QMEDs Endang Abidin and Jonathan Miller, SB Roger Mosley, Chief Cook Linda McPhetridge and GSUs Crista Ali and Charles Mitchell. Crewing the vessel in the licensed positions (in no particular order) were American Maritime Officers members Capt. Patrick Rathbun, Chief Mate Michael Lamb, 2nd Mate Alexander Fyodorovykh, 3rd Mates John Jordan and Matthew Gibson, Chief Engineer Gregg Daley, 1st. AE Patrick Coyle Jr., and 2nd AE Reid Brown. Also aboard the vessel were Ice Pilot Robert Lee, Deck Cadet Donald Heffem and Engine Cadet Timothy Burke. (Lee is not pictured.)

USNS Paul Buck

USNS Paul Buck 2

USNS Paul Buck 3