MilitaryWe're Antarctic sailors who just returned from a four month voyage on a ~forty year old military vessel. We played with penguins, watched the ocean glow, burned way too much trash, and fought wildfires (unrelated). Ask us anything!
Mar 29th 2017 by Humak • 25 Questions • 126 Points
Hi, my shipmate and I just completed Operation Deep Freeze 2017 aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) POLAR STAR (wikipedia link below). We spent ~1.5 months breaking 70 miles of Antarctic ice to clear the way for resupply vessels to McMurdo Station and allow the U. S. Antarctic Research Program to continue for another year. Along our way, we stopped in Honolulu, Sydney (for New Year's nonetheless), New Zealand (where we fought wildfires*), and Tahiti.
Great things we saw on the trip:
Whales eating penguins Bio-Luminescent plankton Stood in the hut Shackleton built Lived through a month long earthquake (icebreaking) Stood in a ~200MPH Snowstorm
Please note that the views expressed herein are our own and don't represent those of the Coast Guard, the Commandant, or the U.S. Government. Please don't fire me for this? Please do promote me for this...
Local News covering our return: http://q13fox.com/2017/03/16/seattle-based-polar-star-icebreaker-returning-home-following-antarctic-mission/
Official Coast Guard News on our return: http://coastguardnews.com/seattle-based-coast-guard-polar-icebreaker-returns-home-following-antarctic-mission/2017/03/17/
What is something you discovered/witnessed exploring which most individuals of society might not know?
Well, stuff doesn't rot. We went into Shackleton's hut where they left things kinda as they were when they left Antarctica 100 years ago. There is a seal carcass in there that is older than mine. You could cook and eat it today (so I'm told).
What did you do for fun? Did you have access to the Internet or was it more like books and boardgames?
Board games are incredibly popular. I learned how to play Catan and got to be pretty damn good at it (I think). Morale also put on trivia nights, bingo, and movie screenings against the hanger door. Holidays always had events (ugly sweater contest, gingerbread house building contest).
There was limited access to the Armed Forces Network (AFN) which let us keep up with the news until we got to the ice. Once we were on the ice, the ship had six channels they played music videos and movies on. We had pretty recent movies thanks to a deal the Navy had worked out with Hollywood.
I had my kindle and blew through 100+ books personally. Plus Boardwalk Empire, Luther, and Preacher.
Not much. Most of the spare parts are mainly propulsion related, and if they don't have it then its either wait for a part or get creative with finding a temporary alternate. Other shops might not have spares on board, so some systems (not propulsion related) went into an OOC (out of commission status) and got fixed at some point if the part has reached the ship.
To start with, I'm the farthest from an engineer. If I ever have to fix something, we've already sunk.
I probably shouldn't go into the capabilities beyond what's publicly available but I will say that our Machinery Technicians (MKs) and Damage Controlmen (DCs) are freaking geniuses. The cutter is always experiencing some issue and those folks work 20 hour days routinely keeping her running. I have nothing but mad respect for them.
The system I will bitch about though are our evaporators. We have two evaporators onboard that came factory standard with Noah's Ark and show their age. They were constantly breaking down and led to nice long stinky stretches of no bathing for everyone. I don't think we ever really had laundry except for short stints. Some days we didn't have real food because we couldn't wash the cooking dishes.
Haha as a Polie it is much worse but perhaps more warranted. We winterovers give the McMurdoites the same attitude they gave you. It mostly has to do with the inability for people who haven't lived there to relate to those who have so we become quote clannish.
So much for finding common ground, eh?
Seriously though I get it. It took me awhile to "turn off" after four months with the same people.