Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Operation Deep Freeze 2007-08 begins

by Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo
Air Force News Agency

Blog note: Important frequency information at the end of this article.

A maintainer looks as National Science Foundation Members get off a C-17 Globemaster III during the Operation Deep Freeze winter fly-in around the Pegasus Runway Aug. 20 in Antarctica. A C-17 and 31 Airmen from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., began the annual winter fly-in augmentation of scientists, support personnel, food and equipment for the U.S. Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station. WinFly is the opening of the first flights to McMurdo Station, which closed for the austral winter in February. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFPN) -- Operation Deep Freeze 2007-08 winter flights began Aug. 20 ending more than five months of isolation for the research station as the first C-17 Globemaster III delivered passengers and cargo to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Landing 15 miles from McMurdo Station at Pegasus Runway, the C-17s will carry in scientists and support members to start early pre-summer projects, augment maintenance personnel and prepare skyways and ice runways at McMurdo Station.

Winter fly-in, called WinFly, is the first of three phases for Operation Deep Freeze that sets the stage for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

"We bring people down that will begin construction on what is called the 'annual sea ice' runway, which is very close to McMurdo," said Lt. Col. Jim McGann, the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.

When people arrive at Antarctica, they have to take about an hour trip from Pegasus Runway to McMurdo Station. Once the 10,000 feet by 220 feet annual sea ice runway is completed, the trip will be just 10 minutes that allows quicker downloads and less exposure to the weather.

"We like it because they build us a nice runway. They like it because the C-17 is closer and it makes the travel time a lot quicker," Colonel McGann said.

Operation Deep Freeze is a demanding mission due to the extreme adversity of the environment and remoteness of Antarctica. For WinFly, and for all of the seasons, there are few options. The C-17 carries unusual loads and has to deal with weather that can change in 30 minutes. To meet the challenges, a joint force of active-duty and Reserve members are assembled to complete the difficult tasks safely and efficiently.

"My pilots are picked because of their judgment and their ability to make the right decision. The loadmasters are the same way," Colonel McGann said. "Both positions have to be highly intuitive. They have to be able to think on their feet and they have to be able to make the right decisions."

Transitioning McMurdo Station from a quiet, isolated winter camp to a logistical hub for the U.S. Antarctic Program the C-17 had only a short window to deliver its passengers and cargo due to daylight and weather.

"The biggest challenges are weather, the complexity of the loads and the time it takes to download and upload the aircraft," said Senior Master Sgt. Jim Masura, the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron superintendent. "Time is limited due to daylight, and we have to get in and out as quickly as we can."

The U.S. military is uniquely equipped to assist the National Science Foundation in the accomplishments of its mission to explore Antarctica, and 13th Air Force officials have the capability to provide joint operational and logistical support around the clock.

Operation Deep Freeze is divided into three seasons: Winfly, main body and winter. It involves active duty and Reserve C-17 support from McChord Air Force Base, Wash. LC-130 from the New York Air National Guard and other aircraft necessary to support the mission, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers and the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One to provide critical port services at McMurdo Station.

Frequency information for Operation Deep Freeze:
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.