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NCHB-1 departs for peacetime mission in Antarctica.

More than 48 Sailors from Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) active duty battalion Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB 1), left Williamsburg, Va., this past January for a peacetime mission in support of the National Science Foundation.

NCHB 1, the only Navy detachment supporting the National Science Foundation research at the South Pole, arrived at Ross Island, Antarctica, in late January, and made port at McMurdo Station, the southernmost navigable harbor in the world.

Once there, Navy cargo handlers met Military Sealift Command (MSC)-chartered tanker ship, MV Maersk Peary, to offload 20 million pounds of fresh supplies to support the scientists and researchers living year-round in the brutal environment. Cargo handlers worked around the clock for more than a week in the continuous sunlight of the Antarctic summer.

"NCHB 1 has been a part of Operation Deep Freeze for more than 50 years," said Lt. Cmdr. John Evans, executive officer for NCHB 1. "Our Sailors who participate in this mission get the very unique experience of stepping on a continent that few have the opportunity to visit."

Despite working 12-hour shifts in the harshest conditions, Sailors competed for the chance to go. "It's an experience that can be remembered forever," said LSSN Cory Lord. "Not many people get to go on an adventure like this."

The Navy has supported expeditions to Antarctica for more than a half century. Their specialized training and equipment continue to make them well-suited for the job.

"In a normal port entry operation, we would contract stevedores locally to offload," said Benjamin Peabody, deputy operations from MSC's Sealift Logistics Command Atlantic. "However, McMurdo Station is a once-a-year visit and without those Sailors, we could not accomplish the total mission."

Once the fresh supplies were offloaded, the previous year's trash was hauled aboard the ship. By international agreement, researchers must save and export all waste to preserve the pristine polar environment. The return shipment included ice core samples that provided scientists who study global climate change with information about the composition of the atmosphere hundreds of thousands of years ago.

By MCC(SW/AW) Edward Kessler

Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group

Public Affairs Officer

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Author:Kessler, Edward
Publication:Navy Supply Corps Newsletter
Geographic Code:8ANTA
Date:Mar 1, 2014
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