Operation Deep Freeze: Vital mission in Antarctica continues

USCGC Polar Star icebreaking operations off of Antarctica

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star cuts through Antarctic ice in the Ross Sea near a large group of seals as the ship’s crew creates a navigation channel for supply ships, Jan. 16, 2017. The resupply channel is an essential part of the yearly delivery of essential supplies to the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

Operation Deep Freeze, the Department of Defense’s logistical support to the National Science Foundation’s U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), kicked off with the Antarctic Season Opening Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sept. 28, 2017. 

The festival will include interactive walking tours of Antarctic landmarks around the city, exhibitions showcasing artwork and stories of the early Antarctic explorers and public talks by representatives of the international Antarctic community in Christchurch, one of the five international gateway cities to Antarctica. The festival events will run from the end of September through the first two weeks of October. 

These festivities provide an opportunity to celebrate the Antarctic programs based in the city as well as the international relationships strengthened through shared support for a stable and secure Pacific region and commitment to research and scientific programs conducted for the betterment of mankind. 

This year’s program includes a public Air Day at the Christchurch International Airport with displays of multiple airframes from Australia, New Zealand and USAP partners Saturday, October 7th. Christchurch International Airport is the staging point for deployments to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, a key research and operations facility for the USAP.

The traditional ‘South to Antarctica’ church service will take place at the Transitional Cathedral, followed by the New Zealand Antarctic Society’s wreath-laying ceremony at the Statue of Sir Robert Falcon Scott Sunday, October 8th.

Members of the New Zealand Antarctic Program, Committee of Managers of National Antarctic Programs, Canterbury University, Christchurch Cathedral dignitaries, U.S. Ambassadors, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica and U.S. military partners are invited to the ceremonies. 

The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in Antarctica’s austere environment, where the USAP’s research is conducted, and has therefore provided logistical support to the USAP since 1955. 

Led by Pacific Air Forces, the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica (JTF-SFA) provides USAP’s military support, which comprises of active duty, National Guard and Reserve U.S. Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and Army personnel. 

JTF-SFA coordinates strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical deep field support, aeromedical evacuation support, search and rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling and transportation requirements.

“Our total force and joint team proudly continues the tradition of U.S. military support to the USAP and demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a stable Pacific region,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Todd Grimsley, JTF-SFA deputy commander.

Airlift for Operation Deep Freeze involves active duty and Reserve C-17 Globemaster III support from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa., LC-130 Hercules support from the New York Air National Guard, sealift support from the U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command, engineering and aviation services from U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, cargo handling from the U.S. Navy, and public health and veterinary services support from the U.S. Army.