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Operation Deep Freeze – Midshipmen Sail to Antarctica

KINGS POINT, N.Y., Mar. 11, 2016 – Two U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) midshipmen experienced “a trip of a lifetime” as part of Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), this year’s resupply mission to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

As part of their Sea Year, Midshipmen 2nd Class Tanner Evans from Anchorage, Alaska, and Midshipmen 2nd Class Nickolas Gioino from Columbia, N.J., sailed on the Military Sealift Command (MSC) chartered container ship MV Ocean Giant, and helped deliver nearly 7 million pounds of supplies such as frozen and dry food stores, building materials, vehicles, and electronic equipment and parts. 

“The experience of traveling south from New Zealand through the Ross Sea and into McMurdo was one of the coolest experiences in my entire life,” said Evans.  “We were fully loaded and an entire station was relying on us to service them for a whole year.  This idea alone was humbling and gave everyone a sense of duty.”

“Transiting the Ross Sea through the channel into the pack ice allows one to see a large amount of wild life.  We saw orcas, penguins, seals, and whales.  The interaction of the wild life is something one only sees in films on the discovery channel,” said Evans.

Evans created a four minute time-lapse video of the visit, which he described as “a trip of a life time,” and posted it on YouTube where it has been viewed over eleven thousand times as of this writing.  “I decided to make this video because it was a trip that most people will never make.  To be able to create a video encompassing as much of the operation as possible was the goal.  I wanted the crew members to be able to remember their time in Antarctica and to allow them to portray to their loved ones what their job was really like.”

The ship’s crewmembers helped Evans capture the remarkable views that made his video so popular, devising various technical tricks to get the cameras into position.  They found somewhere new for the camera each day, and never placed a camera in the same location twice.

Operation Deep Freeze (ODF) is a joint service, on-going Defense Support to Civilian Authorities activity in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program. Mission support consists of active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard as well as Department of Defense civilians and attached non-DOD civilians. Military Sealift Command has supported ODF since McMurdo Station was established in 1955, providing supplies and fuel to scientists operating from the remote base.

Evans recommendation for midshipmen is to work hard on their first sailing.  “You have to have completed a certain amount of sea days, scored a certain average on evaluations, and performed excellently on sea projects.  Only a certain amount of midshipmen are able to make the voyage, but every second down on the bottom of the worlds is worth all the hard work.”

By Cmdr. Benjamin Benson, USMS

Updated: Friday, March 11, 2016
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