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Two tankers and one dry cargo ship completed the annual resupply of the remote Thule Air Base in Thule, Greenland, on July 28th.

The ships, USNS Paul Buck, MV Gus W. Darnell and MV American Tern, delivered fuel and containerized cargo to Thule as part of Operation Pacer Goose, the annual resupply of the air base.

Operation Pacer Goose is one of the Arctic outpost's few sources of food, spare parts and other manufactured goods needed each year. The ships taking part in the mission also remove all of the base's solid waste and non-repairable equipment for return to the United States. All three ships are operated by Military Sealift Command, the ocean transportation provider for the department of defense.

After loading dry cargo in Hampton Roads, VA, American Tern sailed for Greenland and off-loaded July 21-28 in Thule. Paul Buck and Gus W. Darnell loaded in early July and discharged fuel at the base July 19-24. Civilian mariners aboard ships like these have provided key support in supplying the air base since 1952.

The tankers that participated in the operation, Paul Buck and Gus W. Darnell, are 615-foot ships named after World War II Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal recipients and were built with strengthened double hulls for service in icy waters. They are ideal for missions like Operation Pacer Goose and each has the capacity to carry 235,000 barrels of various fuels. Paul Buck is a government-owned ship, while Gus W. Darnell is on long-term charter to MSC.

American Tern, the dry cargo ship charged with making the icy voyage to Greenland, is air MSC-chartered 521-foot, ice-classed container ship. This will be the first Pacer Goose mission for the ship, which replaces MV Green Wave, a veteran of 18 previous missions to Thule. American Tern's mission also extends beyond Pacer Goose. The ship's strengthened hull makes it MSC's ideal choice to participate in Operation Deep Freeze, the annual resupply of McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica.

Thule, Greenland, is located between the North Pole and the Arctic Circle and is accessible by sea only from mid-June to mid-September due to thick ice that covers its coastal waters. Created in secret as a refueling base for strategic bombers during the Cold War, the base of more than 1,100 US Air Force, US Coast Guard and multinational personnel now serve as a detection and tracking station for objects traveling over the Arctic Circle.

The Navy's Military Sealift Command normally operates 120 civilian-crewed, noncombatant ships for a variety of missions around the world. That number expanded to more than 210 in March as additional ships were activated from reduced operating stares or chartered for tire command's support of US forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

From January to April 2003, MSC ships delivered more than 21 million square feet of combat equipment and other cargo--the equivalent of more than 300 football fields--to the Central Command area of operations. The command's fleet support ships also pumped more than 117 million gallons of fuel to US Navy and coalition warships in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

MSC ship missions include underway replenishment of US Navy ships at sea, prepositioning and transport of defense cargo and at-sea data collection for the US military and other US government agencies.
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Title Annotation:Chapter And Government News
Publication:Defense Transportation Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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