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Big Load

Big Load

The operation is so big it’s known simply as Vessel.

Two ships sail in icy waters.

Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter POLAR STAR, left, escorts the MV OCEAN GIANT through the sea ice near McMurdo Station on Jan. 26.
Truck drives up road in front of ship.

Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek
A flatbed truck hauls a milvan up the road from the ice pier and wharf. There are about 370 sea containers aboard the OCEAN GIANT.
Tractor pulls sled across snow.

Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek
A tractor pulls a sled with two boxes filled with ice cores from the South Pole. The cores were flown by LC-130 aircraft to McMurdo Station to be loaded onto the cargo vessel.

The cargo vessel chartered by the Military Sealift Command to resupply two of the National Science Foundation’s research stations in Antarctica seems up to the task based on name alone. The MV Ocean Giant, above, arrived at McMurdo Station on Monday, Jan. 26 (local time), with nearly seven million pounds of supplies. Its arrival marks the beginning of the end of the 2014-15 summer season for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

It will take about a week to unload the 370 containers and 15 pieces of break-bulk cargo. The ship evolution, as it’s known, includes reloading the 545-foot-long ship with an estimated 550 containers, including refrigeration units that will contain nearly 2,000 feet of ice cores drilled at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

The 24-hour operation involves many of the support personnel based at McMurdo Station who must process the cargo, which includes nearly 1.2 million pounds of food and beverages, along with almost 40,000 pounds of fresh foods loaded onto the ship from New Zealand.

Members of the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion and New Zealand Defence Force arrived by air shortly before the Ocean Giant was scheduled to reach McMurdo to help with the cargo operation. The former work on the ship to move “the cans” – the sea containers – to and from the pier, which is made of ice that is about 15 feet thick and covered with a layer of dirt. The military personnel from New Zealand operate flatbed trucks to transport the milvans from the wharf area to McMurdo Station proper.

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Source:: Antarctic Sun Featured Articles

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