Sunday, February 4, 2007

Cargo off-loading at McMurdo

© David Eldred
A D-7 Caterpillar Bulldozer tows a train of cargo sleds across the ice.

The main mission of Operation Deep Freeze was to deliver goods, supplies, and scientific equipment. Food, drink, building materials, power equipment, fuel - almost everything the station needed was delivered by ship. During the 1961-62 operation, the USS Arneb (AKA-56) carried what was supposed to be the answer to all of McMurdo's electrical power needs - a nuclear power plant.

Ships tied up and unloaded on the ice. Dozens of vehicles, from buldozers to Snow Weasels, some towing cargo sleds, made their way out onto the ice to bring the cargo back to the base. Over the course of several weeks, the contents of each ship was disgorged onto the ice, loaded on cargo carriers, and hauled to McMurdo.


A D-8 Caterpillar Bulldozer hauls cargo sleds. Several D-8 Bulldozers were delivered to Antarcica for the IGY in 1956. Nearly 50 years later, the last of the D-8s were being retired.
Antarctic D-8s turn 50


6 comments:

rohan said...

hey there Mike.
An Aussie national, I lived in ChCh NZ during the mid-late 1970's and often marvelled at the Sno-Cat displayed near the centre of town. Subsequently worked up the hill at Mt Hutt and was grateful for my Deepfreeze III inflatable thermal gumboots :)

Unfortunately, hot components from the failed Martin reactor ex McMurdo sat shipboard at Lyttleton Harbor, over the Port Hills from ChCh, silently leaking radioactivity. Not a happy chapter in a great story.

Well.. thank you for the nostalgic visit!

RH

rohan said...

hey there Mike.
An Aussie national, I lived in ChCh NZ during the mid-late 1970's and often marvelled at the Sno-Cat displayed near the centre of town. Subsequently worked up the hill at Mt Hutt and was grateful for my Deepfreeze III inflatable thermal gumboots :)

Unfortunately, hot components from the failed Martin reactor ex McMurdo sat shipboard at Lyttleton Harbor, over the Port Hills from ChCh, silently leaking radioactivity. Not a happy chapter in a great story.

Well.. thank you for the nostalgic visit!

RH

rohan said...

hey there Mike.
An Aussie national, I lived in ChCh NZ during the mid-late 1970's and often marvelled at the Sno-Cat displayed near the centre of town. Subsequently worked up the hill at Mt Hutt and was grateful for my Deepfreeze III inflatable thermal gumboots :)

Unfortunately, hot components from the failed Martin reactor ex McMurdo sat shipboard at Lyttleton Harbor, over the Port Hills from ChCh, silently leaking radioactivity. Not a happy chapter in a great story.

Well.. thank you for the nostalgic visit!

RH

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

I'm an ex-Deep Freeze guy [ComNavSupFor 1966-67] living near Palmerston North, NZ. Yesterday, the Air Force claimed to have made the first night flight into McMurdo. Not So!...maybe the third...vide the following:
Source: Library of Congress Card Number: 66-19953
Clarke, P., 1966. On the Ice. Burdette and Company, distributed by Rand McNally: New York/Chicago/San Francisco

PP 98-9:
On June 1, 1966, when the Continent was dark, UTP2 Robert L. Mayfield fell at McMurdo and suffered serious internal injuries. His condition was reported to Washington by radio, and [Commander Naval Support Force Antarctica] Admiral [Fred E.] Bakutis ordered a Herc to take off from Quonset [Point, RI]. It was fitted with the same interior fuel tank that is sued to supply inland stations on the ice, containing 35,000 pounds of JP4 and assuring at least fourteen extra flying hours. The plane carried almost three crews and was flown by Cdr “Moe”Morris, skipper of VX-6 [Navy Air Development Squadron Six], just before he relinquished command of the squadron. In Washington, they picked up the Admiral and his staff doctor and staff meteorologists.

Below: [referring to an artist’s conception of the landing on the ice] Cdr Morris reported a bright moon as he brought the plane in very high over the Continent. At about 4,500 feet he found cloud cover, but when he dropped below it he saw the blazing oil drums on the Strip.

Right: [referring to photo of Navyman tending fire in oil drum]
The Strip at McMurdo had to be cleared of four months’ snow, and the GCA equipment reactivated. It took the wintering-over party six days to make a skyway 6,000 feet long, lined with oil drums, and in the middle of this labour they were interrupted by a storm. Although a temperature of 38 degrees below zero and winds of 86 knots had been recorded at McMurdo in the month of June, the plane landed in a 15-knot wind with a minus 14 degree temperature. Only once before in history had an aircraft landed in the Antarctic in darkness. In June, 1964, a second Herc went along for possible search and rescue duty, but this year a second plane was not available at Quonset. The New Zealanders responded magnificently, holding two planes ready for SAR at Invercargill, the southernmost city in New Zealand, and sending a picket ship halfway to Antarctica for weather information.

Above: Admiral Bakutis stands aside as Mayfield is put aboard the Herc, which also brought mail and fresh fruit and vegetables for the lonely men at McMurdo. After less than three hours on the ground, the plane was on its way back to Christchurch where Mayfield’s ruptured bladder was operated on successfully.

Cheers,
Arne Evans
Journalist Third Class, USN
685 04 46

Tom Feldman said...

Hi Mike,

I was on the USCGC Northwind in 1973 and while searching around on the internet came upon your blog. It brings back "fond" old memories of my time there and I just thought I'd send a quick greeting and say thanks for the brief trip down memory lane.

Tom Feldman

Anonymous said...

My grandfather spent time at McMurdo.

http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=43152