Operation Deep Freeze Finishes

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica, Operation DEEP FREEZE, an annual Antarctic airlift mission in support of the National Science Foundation, completed its final sortie Feb. 28, closing a record filled season.

Flight operations were supported by LC-130s from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, Scotia, N.Y., and by an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, from the 62nd Airlift Wing, McChord Air Force Base, WA. The two units exceeded all-time mission and cargo records in the coldest, windiest, most inhospitable continent on the globe.

“The crews, staff, and contractors did incredible work at the bottom of the world in the harshest of weather conditions," said Lt. Gen. David Deptula, JTF-SFA Commander. "In spite of challenging weather delays, we ended the season exceeding all of the National Science Foundation’s needs. I am immensely proud of the men and women who were part of the JTF.”

Flying from Christchurch, New Zealand, the C-17 unit completed 51 long-range transport missions, moving more than 3 million pounds of cargo and 4,739 passengers into McMurdo Station, Antarctica, logistics hub for ODF.

On the ice, ski-equipped LC-130s transport people and cargo within Antarctica. The LC-130 unit set the single-season flying records of 466 total on-continent missions and 377 missions to the South Pole.

The LC-130 unit also set records for the most cargo moved in a season (14.4 million pounds), the most cargo delivered directly to the South Pole (9.9 million pounds), the most fuel offloaded at the South Pole (4.54 million pounds), and the latest closing date of the South Pole (Feb. 21).

“It was quite exhilarating to achieve what we did with the dynamics we had and I'm extremely proud of the men and women who served on land, at sea and in the air," said Col. Ron Smith, 500th Air Expeditionary Group commander. "I’m glad to be out of there because the temp on that last mission was - 47 degrees and we can only operate up to –50. It was a perfect ending; we couldn’t have timed it any better.”