For more than 50 years, Navy ships and personnel have been part of a complicated and scientifically crucial mission at the bottom of the world.
Operation Deep Freeze, led by the Commander, Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica, provides the logistics support necessary to maintain the U.S. presence on the worlds' least inhabited continent. The blend of Air Force and Navy forces are a vital piece of the United States' presence in Antarctica. While the National Science Foundation (NSF) runs the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), it has an agreement with DOD to handle the mind-bending logistical challenge of supplying the frozen continent.
Deep Freeze, at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, is one of the military's most complex peacetime missions. During this year's re-supply mission, the 59 Navy cargo handlers from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1 (NCHB-1) in Williamsburg, Va., first braved bone-chilling cold. Next, the crew adapted to the barren sea of ice and snow that fill the vast, endless landscape where the sun won't set for months.
"Only the very best, most motivated and competent Sailors can hope to be assigned to this difficult and complex mission," said Lt. Josh Heivly, the Navy's Operation Deep Freeze officer in charge.
Despite the never-ending challenges, the NCHB-1 Sailors treated their Antarctic duty like a badge of honor.
"It's a lifetime opportunity. We helped to supply the NSF and it's an honor to help," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Dyshawn Mitchell.
Once the NCHB-1 Sailors got past the feeling of operating on a distant planet, life at McMurdo Station began to feel very normal, with the comforts of any small town. There is a church, a fire station, a library, a …