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OPP 06-001 November 2005

Support Operations, 2005-2006

  1. Traverse
    Extending prior work, a South Pole Proof of Concept Heavy Traverse is planned from McMurdo to South Pole and back.  This will extend previous efforts from as far as the head of the Leverett Glacier, or about 262 nautical miles.  If this experiment is successful, traverses will move cargo between the two stations, reducing the demand on LC-130 airplanes.

  2. Ships (research and support)
    1. The research ship, Nathaniel B. Palmer, length 94 meters, icebreaker, purpose-built in 1992 for long-term charter to U.S. Antarctic Program.1  The ship supports research throughout the Southern Ocean the year-round. 
    2. The research ship Laurence M. Gould, 71 meters, ice-strengthened, purpose-built in 1997 for long-term charter to U.S. Antarctic Program1 (replaces RV Polar Duke, chartered 1984-1997).  Year-round research and Palmer Station support.
    3. Polar Star, 122 meters, U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker,2 and a second commercially contracted icebreaker.  Annual summer channel break-in to McMurdo and some summer-season research support.
    4. American Tern, 159 meters, Military Sealift Command chartered ice-classed cargo ship.3  Annual cargo delivery to, and waste retrograde from, McMurdo.
    5. USNS Lawrence Gianella, tanker, Military Sealift Command (MSC) chartered. Annual fuel delivery to McMurdo.
    6. Krasin, 135 meters, Russian icebreaker, commercially chartered to be the primary icebreaker to open the channel to McMurdo and escort the re-supply vessels.

  3. Runways (wheeled operations near McMurdo)
    1. McMurdo Sound (78°S), annual sea ice, October–December
    2. Pegasus (78°S), prepared glacial ice; previously not used in the warmer summer months, this runway was groomed for year-round use in 2001.

  4. Skiways (ski operations only)
    1. Williams Field (78°S), near McMurdo, available year-round
    2. South Pole (90°S)
    3. Open field (various locations)

End notes
[3] (MSC announcement); (American Maritime Officer news item)
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