|NZDF personnel have worked around the clock in 24-hour daylight to have the ship unloaded and reloaded in eight days.|
February 2, 2015 - New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel in Antarctica have worked around the clock in 24-hour daylight to unload and reload the massive supply ship Ocean Giant.
In a slick eight-day operation, the 53-strong team of NZDF personnel from Linton and Burnham Military Camps unloaded 389 crates containing food, vehicles, scientific equipment and general supplies that will last twelve months. They then reloaded the ship with 550 crates of waste and scientific research and equipment from the previous twelve months.
The larger number of crates for the return journey is a result of poor weather in February 2014, when a huge storm broke up the ice pier, forcing the Ocean Giant to leave Antarctica before all crates were loaded.
The deployment of the Ship Offload Team is the biggest 'surge' of NZDF personnel to the ice each year, with a team made up of stevedores, riggers, general assistants and drivers. There are now 101 NZDF personnel on the continent, and 23 supporting operations in Christchurch.
The United States Marine Terminal Supervisor on the ice, Michael Davis, is full of praise for the Kiwis.
“The NZDF team are probably the most enthusiastic people I know, and they’re definitely the most fit. They do pushups for every container they unload. We can’t keep up with them, they are absolutely a notch above.”
Although the majority of the supplies are headed to the United States Antarctic Programme at McMurdo, Antarctica New Zealand has taken ownership of 31 crates. These include a much anticipated excavator, Land Cruiser and two Hagglunds for Scott Base, home to New Zealand’s national Antarctic programme. Two crates have been dedicated to the tools and construction supplies required for the upgrade of the Hillary Field Centre. The NZDF has contributed four Army engineers to support the world’s most southern building project, which will transform the field centre into a modern research and scientific facility.
NZDF Senior National Officer Major Brett Grieve has been working with Antarctica New Zealand on the ice since September and welcomed the arrival of the ship offload and light engineering teams.
“The Kiwis arrived with a positive attitude and quickly separated into day and night shifts. The teams are working well together under the various section commanders. It’s a privilege to work alongside them.”