Tuesday, January 09, 2007

U.S. icebreaking ship arrives in McMurdo

1/8/2007 - MCMURDO, Antarctica (AFNEWS) -- The Coast Guard became part of the Air Force-led Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica Jan. 1 with the arrival of the Cutter Polar Sea at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Home ported in Seattle, the Polar Sea arrived after a month-long voyage including stops in Honolulu and Sydney, Australia.

The Polar Sea joined the Swedish icebreaker Oden, which began breaking ice Dec. 26.
For the past 50 years, Coast Guard icebreakers have deployed to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, where ships have broken through as much as 84 nautical miles of ice to produce a navigable shipping channel into McMurdo Station. This year's channel will be approximately 23 nautical miles long -- 13 of which is first year ice at an average thickness of 3 to 5 feet and 10 of which is multi-year ice at an average thickness of 5 to 11 feet.

This vital shipping channel allows supply ships to deliver more than 6 million gallons of fuel and 4,000 metric tons of cargo, enabling McMurdo Station and South Pole Station to remain manned and operational throughout the harsh winter months. The Polar Sea also acts as a floating research platform for scientists that travel onboard.

Ice breaking operations will continue until the departure of the cargo ship in mid-February when the Polar Sea will return home.

The Polar Sea, a 399-foot polar class icebreaker with a 140-person crew, is recently out of a two-year overhaul. The Polar Sea conducted sea trials in the Arctic this summer to test all the ship's equipment and train the crew prior to transiting to Antarctica to re-supply the McMurdo station for the National Science Foundation.

The Polar Sea was specifically designed for solo icebreaking in remote Polar Regions. The cutter's red reinforced hull is made of 1.75 inches of steel that covers a specially contoured icebreaking bow. The cutter can call on 75,000 shaft horsepower enabling it to break up to 21 feet of ice. The Polar Sea has deployed 17 times in support of Operation Deep Freeze.

(Courtesy of 13th Air Force Public Affairs)

HF and VHF frequencies used in Antarctica
Source: Field Manual for the US Antarctica Program

HF Comms
Primary HF transmission mode is USB. Communications between Antarctica field parties and fixed-wing aircraft normally occur on 9032 kHz. If a fixed-wing aircraft cannot be reached on that frequency, they use 4770 kHz or 11553 kHz to contact MAC Ops at McMurdo. Helo secondary frequency is 9032 kHz. The primary frequencies for passing weather observations is:

• 11553 kHz for remote-site field parties.
• 4770 kHz for Dry Valley and surrounding areas field parties.

McMurdo Station
Frequency Channel Description
4770 kHz Ross Island and Dry Valley Field Parties
5100 kHz Air-to-Ground
5400 kHz Scott Base Field Parties
7995 kHz Remote/South Pole
9032 kHz Air-to-Ground
11553 kHz Remote Field Parties

Palmer Station
Frequency Channel Description
4125 kHz Secondary USAP Field Parties
11553 kHz Primary USAP Field Parties

VHF Comms
McMurdo Frequency Plan (For vehicle and handheld radios in the McMurdo vicinity):
Transmit Receive CH Net Name freq. (MHz) freq. (MHz)
1* I-Net (T-Site ) 143.000 143.000
2* Crash Net (T-Site) 139.600 139.600
3* NZ Portable 142.800 138.800
4* NZ Crater Hill 139.300 143.800
5 Public Works (T-Site) 139.000 142.600
6 Airfield Ops 139.200 139.200
7 Science Net 139.500 139.500
8 Field Party Ops 138.600 143.225 (Aurora repeater)
9 Fuels Net (T-Site) 143.600 143.600
10 Movement Control Center 139.800 143.725 ( U.S. Crater Hill repeater)
11 Helo Ops 143.400 143.400
12 Penguin Ops/ANG 143.200 143.200

Further Field Party Frequency Plan (For portable and handheld VHF radios issued to science groups and support personnel deploying to the Dry Valleys, sea ice camps, and Ross Island camps):
Transmit ReceiveCH Net Name freq. (MHz) freq. (MHz)
1* I-Net (T-Site ) 143.000 143.000
2* Crash Net (T-Site) 139.600 139.600
3 Science Net 139.500 139.500
4 Helo Ops 143.400 143.400
5* NZ Crater Hill 139.300 143.800
6 Helo Flight Following 138.500 143.975
7 Field Party Ops 138.600 143.225 (Taylor repeater)
8 Field Party Ops 138.600 143.225 (Wright repeater)
9 Field Party Ops 138.600 143.225 (Terror repeater)
10 Field Party Ops 138.600 143.225 (Aurora repeater)
11 Field Party Ops 138.600 143.225 (Brooke repeater)
12 Blank

Mac Ops -- Field Operation Communications Center, second floor of Bldg 165 at McMurdo. Air National Guard LC-130 aircraft are identified by the call sign “Skier,” followed by a specific aircraft number.Helicopters are identified by the last three digits on the helicopter tail. The digits are always two numbers and a letter.