Seafarers continue to answer the call from McMurdo Station in Antarctica every year, and Operation Deep Freeze 2020 proved to be no exception.
Three SIU-crewed ships made the annual journey, aided by the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star. The first vessel to arrive was the containership MV Ocean Giant, operated by Waterman Steamship, carrying more than 6,000 tons of supplies such as frozen and dry food stores, building materials, vehicles, electronic equipment and parts. These supplies account for nearly 80 percent of the items needed for the continued year-round manning of the scientific research station.
The Ocean Giant also delivered a Marine Causeway System, a 65-ton pier that was assembled and installed to be used this year instead of the longstanding ice pier at McMurdo Station, which sustained damage over the previous year and was unusable for offload. Once the supplies were delivered, the vessel was loaded with containers of backload, as well as ice-core samples for scientific study and returned to Port Hueneme, California.
The MT Maersk Peary, operated by Maersk Line, Limited, arrived second. Once there, the 590-foot tanker offloaded nearly eight million gallons of diesel and jet fuel, which will supply the station for a full year. After the Peary began the return voyage, the SLNC Magothy, operated by Argent Marine, arrived, carrying 5,000 metric tons of construction materials and equipment to be used in an expansion project at McMurdo Station. The Magothy then backloaded the temporary pier and returned to the U.S.
SIU members sailing aboard the Ocean Giant included Bosun James Minckler, ABs Jamila King, William Kovacs and Somitya Rana, QE4s Rahsaan Alexander, Jared Latta and Sebastian Krowicki, Electrician Vladimir Loutaev, GUDE Brianna Ashley, Steward/Baker Joshua Bingham, ACU Tuliga Fuega and Apprentice Charles Fischer Jr.
The SIU crew of the Maersk Peary included Recertified Bosun Ronald Paradise, ABs Lloyd La Beach, Travis Golightly, Nicholas Hoffman, David Kennedy and June Kirk Margaja, QE4 Rene Hallasgo, Pumpman Rickey Yancey, Wiper Johnny Matthews, Recertified Steward Tony Spain, Chief Cook John Chaney and Steward Assistant Dave Martin.
The Seafarers aboard the SLNC Magothy included Recertified Bosun Abdul Hassan, ABs Jerry Gemeniano and Ronald Wikstrom, Oilers Keith Carswell and Jarvis Carter, Steward Baker Tamara Houston and ACU Abdulla Quraish.
All three vessels were charted by the U.S. Military Sealift Command.
This season, delays in schedules gave the Peary the chance to do an at-sea fuel transfer with the Polar Star on the way to Antarctica.
“The slow trudging, wedged together in the ice with Polar Star provided an opportunity to perform a lightering operation,” said the Peary’s Capt. E.M. Hatton. “With only one pump running, we discharged 534,000 gallons of fuel over two days. The operation provided a dress rehearsal for the larger discharge to follow.”
Operation Deep Freeze is a joint service, ongoing Defense Support to Civilian Authorities activity in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program. SIU members have participated in the annual mobilization for decades.