Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

Icebreaker

The scene is changing around McMurdo as the summer winds down and we prepare for the next winter and summer season.  The icebreaker has arrived!  Which signals the start of base resupply.  With no flights into or out of McMurdo from March through August, the base has to be fully restocked with food, supplies and fuel. 

A photo taken and compiled by Jordan Watson captures the change in scenery perfectly.

The top picture shows the ice runway as it looked when I landed at the start of the season.  The bottom photo, taken from the same location, shows the Nathaniel B Palmer research vessel.  The runway is now water!!

It took a couple of days for the Oden icebreaker to arrive at the ice pier after it was seen on the horizon from hut point.  Even the penguin was anxiously awaiting its arrival.

The Oden is a icebreaker research vessel out of Sweden that was built in 1988.  The front of the boat is flat (rather than coming to a point), which allows the boat to ride up onto the ice to break the ice apart.  The NSF has chartered the Oden from the Swedish Maritime Organization to break apart the ice in front of McMurdo for six years (2006-2012).  It docked at our newly built ice pier.  The old pier is in the background and is waiting for wind to blow it away. 

The Nathaniel B. Palmer, a 94 meter ice-capable vessel, followed the Oden in to port.  It was built in Louisiana and is capable of breaking 3 feet of ice at 30 knots.  It would not have been able to break through the channel like the Oden did.  I had the opportunity to tour this gorgeous research vessel.  It just left on an 11 day research cruise and should be back to refuel next week.

We are now awaiting the arrival of the cargo vessel.  It is arriving later than expected.  Everyone is gearing up for a busy ship offload. 

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