Operation Deep Freeze: A military operation

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Written by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star breaks ice in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 10, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star breaks ice in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 10, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

The capabilities of the United States military can assist scientific researchers discover more about our planet. One peacetime mission assisting in that realm is Operation Deep Freeze.

Chief Petty Officer Shelby Carlson, the corpsman aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, gives training on how to administer fluids intravenously while underway in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 11, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

Chief Petty Officer Shelby Carlson, the corpsman aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, gives training on how to administer fluids intravenously while underway in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 11, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

Operation Deep Freeze is the U.S. military’s contribution to the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation. Members of the Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Army and National Guard carry out the annual operation, which is crucial to securing a stable region in which science programs sponsored by the NSF can be carried out for the betterment of all mankind. All the military components contributing to Operation Deep Freeze comprise Joint Task Force—Support Forces Antarctica, which is led by Pacific Air Forces.

180111-G-ZE884-718 Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star take a break to photograph a pod of orcas in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 11, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

180111-G-ZE884-718
Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star take a break to photograph a pod of orcas in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 11, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

Operation Deep Freeze is one of the military’s most challenging peacetime missions, as the environment in which the mission is conducted is harsh. Negotiating the frozen seas of the Antarctic region requires specialized equipment and skills. The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star—the only operational heavy icebreaker in the entire United States’ fleet—makes the trip from Seattle each year to clear a navigable channel through the ice for supply ships to make deliveries to research stations in Antarctica.

The Polar Star’s mission for Operation Deep Freeze 2018 is to break through approximately 15 miles of solid ice, some of which is up to 10 feet thick, in order for NSF’s McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole stations to be resupplied. The crew of the Polar Star traveled through nearly 300 miles of pack ice before they reached the fast ice, the ice that’s actually connected to Antarctica, Jan. 8. The Polar Star breaks through the fast ice to create an initial channel and then travels back through the passage to further break the ice into small enough pieces for other ships to get through safely. These supply ships carry critical supplies used to sustain NSF operations throughout the year until Polar Star returns in 2019.

An emperor penguin poses for a photo in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 10, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

An emperor penguin poses for a photo in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica, Jan. 10, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

 


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