Thursday, December 06, 2007

Operation Deep Freeze main season underway

Active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., and the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, combined efforts to support the 13th Air Force-led Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica, Operation Deep Freeze.

The main season, which opened Sept. 28, is the main science research season for the National Science Foundation in Antarctica. The population of McMurdo Station triples in size and it becomes a hive of activity.

The Air Force's role is to provide logistical support to the National Science Foundation via strategic and tactical airlift. C-17 Globemaster IIIs fly from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo Station, Anarctica, and LC-130 Hercules fly from the station to the outlying camps and the South Pole.

"We provide strategic airlift and tactical airlift for the National Science Foundation," said Lt. Col. Jim McGann, the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander. "In saying that, we bring cargo and people down there in a time-critical nature to get them onto the ice to do the required science and everything else they need to do in a short time," he said.

Once the C-17s bring in their large loads of equipment and people, the loads are broken down into smaller loads for the LC-130s.

"The LC-130s provide access to the deeper recesses of the continent," said Mike Scheuermann, the National Science Foundation representative in Antarctica. "We couldn't begin to do the research that we do without the LC-130s," he said.

The main research season for Antarctica is only about four months long. The NSF relies on the Air Force to get equipment and people in and out of Antarctica as efficiently as possible, minimizing the impact on the station and the continent and getting their research done in a timely manner.

Prior to the Air Force taking over the mission, If you had aircraft availability of 70 percent, that was a good target, Mr. Sheuermann said.

"The 109th (AW) with their LC-130s were at 97 percent aircraft availability last year. Just phenomenal, almost unheard of in my time," Mr. Sheuermann said.

It is critical that the C-17s and LC-130s get equipment, cargo and people where they need to be and back, Col. McGann said.

"When you start talking about traversing the large distances associated with Antarctica -- all provided by the military -- it has been an outstanding service," said Mr. Sheuermann. "We couldn't do it with out them."

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.