The U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command-chartered container ship Green Wave
departed McMurdo Station, Antarctica on Feb. 25 after delivering more than 6.8 million pounds of supplies in support of Operation Deep Freeze (ODF).
ODF is the annual Joint Task Force Support For Antarctica mission to resupply the remote scientific outpost.
followed Military Sealift Command-chartered tanker Maersk Peary
, which brought more than 6.3 million gallons of crucial diesel, gasoline and jet fuel to McMurdo Station Jan. 28-31.
During this single mission, Military Sealift Command ships deliver 100 percent of the fuel and about 80 percent of the supplies that researchers and support personnel who live and work across Antarctica need to survive and work during a year.
"Without the fuel, food, and other support materials delivered by our chartered ships, researchers could not continue their operations through the brutal Antarctic winter," said Tim McCully, Military Sealift Command Pacific deputy commander, in a statement.
A command-chartered dry cargo ship and tanker have made the challenging voyage to Antarctica every year since the station was established in 1955.
Typically, the Military Sealift Command cargo ships off-load their cargo at a 500-foot ice pier that juts out from the Antarctic coast. This year's mission was one of the more challenging in the last two decades due to unfavorable weather conditions that made the ice pier at McMurdo unusable for dry cargo operations.
In lieu of the ice pier, Green Wave
carried a disassembled modular causeway system from the U.S. Army's 331st Transportation Company. Once safely anchored at McMurdo Station, 41 Army personnel spent three days assembling the interlocking pieces of the causeway and powered modular warping tugs, which were craned off the ship individually and built into a floating dock capable of handling the ship's load.
After the causeway was ready, 60 Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One personnel worked around the clock for eight days to off-load Green Wave
's cargo, then load the ship with 391 pieces of cargo for transportation off the continent, including ice core samples carried back to the United States in sub-zero freezer containers. The ship also took on trash and recyclable materials for disposal. Cargo operations ended Feb. 24, and Green Wave
is slated to arrive back at Port Hueneme, Calif. on March 26.