BY CHIEF MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST EDWARD KESSLER, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER NAVY EXPEDITIONARY LOGISTICS SUPPORT GROUP
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Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE Sailors try on cold weather gear prior to their departure to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
Fifty Sailors from Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) active duty battalion Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE (NCHB 1) and two Reserve Component Sailors from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion EIGHT (NCHB 8) and TEN (NCHB 10), departed Cheatham Annex, Williamsburg, Virginia, Jan. 13, in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Operation Deep Freeze 2016 (ODF’16).
The Sailors will deploy as part of ODF’16, the military logistical support component of the Antarctic Program.
ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. It is one of the military’s most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment. The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such extreme climates.
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Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE (NCHB 1) Sailors arrive at McMurdo Station, Antarctica via U.S. Air Force C-130 in support of the National Science Foundation annual resupply mission
in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2016 (ODF’16). The United States Navy has been a part of Operation Deep Freeze since 1955. NCHB 1 is the Navy’s only active duty Navy cargo handling
battalion and operates in concert with NAVELSG’s six reserve cargo handling battalions.
NCHB 1, the only Navy detachment supporting the National Science Foundation research in Antarctica, arrived at Ross Island, Antarctica, mid-January and made port at NSF’s McMurdo Station, the southern-most navigable harbor in the world.
Once there, Navy cargo handlers met the Military Sealift Command-chartered ship Merchant Vessel Ocean Giant, to offload approximately 20 million pounds of fresh supplies to support the scientists and researchers living year-round in the brutal environment. Cargo handlers will work around the clock for seven to 10 days in the continuous sunlight of the Antarctic summer.
“The conditions that we are working in are extremely dangerous and people are not used to working in the cold so it is important to have someone with experience and that understands the unique factors and watch out for everyone’s safety while still tackling the mission,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Cliff Brown. “It is an honor to be able to go down there with a bunch of Sailors who have never experienced this type of mission before.”
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Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE Sailors board “Ivan the Terra Bus” after arriving aboard McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
Despite working 12-hour shifts in the harshest conditions, Sailors compete for the chance to go.
“It seemed interesting, an opportunity. I don’t know too many people that can say they have been to Antarctica,” said Equipment Operator 3rd Class Robert Newton, a Reserve Component Sailor with NCHB 10.
The Navy has supported expeditions to Antarctica for more than a half century. Their specialized training and equipment continue to make them well-suited for the job.
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Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE Sailors get situated after boarding the U.S. Air Force C-130 flight to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Cold weather gear is staged prior to issue to Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE Sailors in preparation for their departure to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
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Cold weather gear is staged prior to issue to Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE Sailors in preparation for their departure to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
“We are good stewards of their cargo because we know that many of these scientists have spent their lives working on their projects and hopefully their research will make our overall lives better,” said Brown.
Once the fresh supplies are offloaded, the previous year’s trash is hauled aboard the ships. By international agreement, researchers must save and export all waste to preserve the pristine polar environment.
The return shipment includes ice core samples that will provide scientists studying global climate change with information about the composition of the atmosphere hundreds of thousands of years ago.
All photos by Electricians Mate 1st Class Jeremy Bivens.