Port Hueneme’s team supports annual Antarctic resupply mission

By Brianne M. Bender DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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Each year, the Preservation, Packaging, Packing and Marking Team at Defense Logistics Agency Distribution San Diego at Port Hueneme, California, supports the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic research mission by helping load supplies onto the NSF research ship. Due to Antarctica's harsh climate, the resupply occurs in January — summertime on the continent — when the ice is thinnest.

The NSF funds and manages the United States Antarctic Program via the Division of Polar Programs in the Directorate of Geosciences. It also supports scientific research and coordinates the efforts of civilian contractors, the military and several federal agencies, in performing research and providing logistical support in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. McMurdo Station is the logistics hub for NSF’s Antarctic research mission.

“The U.S. Antarctic research mission has three objectives: expanding the fundamental knowledge of the region, fostering the research of global and regional problems of notable scale and the use of Antarctica as a platform to continually sustain research efforts,” said Michael Sneed, packing supervisor at DLA Distribution San Diego at Port Hueneme. His group works closely with NSF contractor Lockheed Martin to load cargo in a way that minimizes shipping costs and waste.

During this year’s mission, DLA Distribution personnel packaged more than 3,500 line items of general and hazardous cargo; made more than 1,100 custom pallets and wooden containers; and built more than 1,400 fiberboard boxes for surface and air shipments, to protect items from damage.

The cargo was loaded aboard the Military Sealift Command–chartered vessel, MV Ocean Giant, which left Port Hueneme Dec. 31 with more than 400 containers, vehicles and pieces of equipment. The ship traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand, to pick up more cargo before heading to its final destination, McMurdo Station.

The Ocean Giant arrived in Antarctica Jan. 22 and will return to Port Hueneme with a load of trash for disposal on Feb. 25, along with a year’s worth of scientific data and ice core samples that will assist the NSF's continued study of the Antarctic.