Tuesday, February 14, 2012

four ships in mcmurdo harbor

This February, McMurdo Station has been visited by four ships. Three of them are regular visitors each summer: an ice breaker, which comes in to break up the winter ice in the bay; a refueling vessel, which brings the winter supply of fuel; and a cargo vessel, which is loaded with shipping containers of supplies for the winter and upcoming summer seasons. And this year, we also had a visit from the Palmer, as I previously posted about.

the Vladimir Ignatyuk. picture by unknown.

The I/B Vladimir Ignatyuk. is a Russian ice-breaker on lease to the NSF this year. Previously, we had a Norwegian ship called the Oden. This ship has cut a huge path through the ice in the harbor to allow the other ships to come through, and also dragged our (now-disconnected from the land) Ice Pier away.

the Maersk Perry. picture by me.

The Maersk Perry is our refueling ship this season. It brings down enough fuel to power the station for the entire winter, plus extra for emergencies. It also brought down special fuel for the ice-breaker, and other types of fuel that we use for some of our vehicles on station.

the Nathaniel B. Palmer. picture by me.

The R/VIB Nathaniel B. Palmer was only in port for one night, as I previously posted about. It plays a huge role in USAP operations: not only is it home to many scientists who are studying the oceans around Antarctica, but it also regularly crosses the Drake Passage between Chile and Antarctica to transport people to Palmer Station and various field camps on the peninsula.

the Green Wave. picture by unknown.

The Green Wave is our cargo vessel this year. After a rocky start and a couple of problems on the way, it finally arrived into port last night, and vessel offload is due to begin tomorrow. Offload is a week-long (or more) operation, where we work in teams to pull cargo containers off of the ship and get them unloaded so they can be filled with outgoing cargo and trash and sent back to the US.

The three ships (the ice breaker, fuel vessel, and cargo vessel) are essential to the continued survival of McMurdo Station, the South Pole station, and the various field camps that these stations support. They bring us fuel to power the station and to make clean drinking water, food for us to eat, and science cargo for the various grantees to utilize in the field.

Also, in a town where outside visitors are rare, boats are pretty exciting to see!

And just to add to my previous post about the Ice Pier explosion, a video that I found on the Common Drive of the explosion:

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