Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More transportation

An FWD ice cargo carrier
Side view of the FWD.
A Tucker Sno-Cat
Another Tucker Sno-Cat
An M29 Weasel
A "Polecat"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

You can't have too many penguin photos

© David Eldred
Emperor Penguins on the ice, near McMurdo Station

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

McMurdo Nuclear Power Plant

© David Eldred
Part of the nuclear power plant is lifted off the USS Arneb onto the ice.
Marked on the side of the steel container: "Martin PM-A3 Nuclear Power Plant" (click photo to enlarge)
In August 1960, Congress authorized the construction of a nuclear power station for McMurdo Station. Martin Coroporation was awarded the $4 million contract for the plant. It was assembled and tested in Baltimore in fall 1961.
© David Eldred


More components of the nuclear power station wait to be unloaded from the USS Arneb.

In early November, 1961, the plant modules were loaded onto the USS Arneb in Rhode Island. On December 13, 1961, the ship arrived at McMurdo sound and began uloading on the ice.

© David Eldred


More nuclear components

All of the components of the nuclear plant were unloaded by December 29, 1961. The components were hauled over the ice on cargo sleds to the reactor site at McMurdo Station. Between January 1, and March 1, 1962 the plant was assembled and tested. On March 4, 1961 the plant was operational. Incredibly, the entire project had gone from Congressional approval to operation in 18 month - by today's standards, an amazing feat.

© David Eldred


Cargo sleds

Unfortunately, the nuclear power plant was not the answer to the station's needs that its proponents had hoped. The plant suffered several accidents and problems, from a fire in the containment tanks in fall 1962, to the coolant leak that sealed its fate in 1972. The plant was removed during the late 1970s.

Icy Dock

© David Eldred
The USS Arneb (AKA-56) moored to the ice at McMurdo.
An aircraft propeller can be seen lurking in the large crate on the ice next to the ship. (Click to enlarge.)

Ships are moored to the ice by means of a deadman, a post about 4' long. A hole is chipped into the ice, narrow at the top, and wider at the bottom. The deadman, with a rope looped around its middle, is wedged sideways into the hole in the ice. When the hole is filled up with water, snow, and ice the deadman becomes a solid part of the ice sheet.


One of the crew's many jokes.

"Here lies the body of an Eastwind deadman, placed here to commemorate the last Operation Deep Freeze by veteran Arctic Antarctic explorer the Duke of Eastwind BM1"

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