Pukekohe Woman Braves The Antarctic Cold

11 January 2013

Able Electronic Warfare Specialist (AEWS) Chelsea Dixon at Scott Base.

Able Electronic Warfare Specialist (AEWS) Chelsea Dixon at Scott Base.

Spending six months at Scott Base in Antarctica is a complete change from 21 year old Pukekohe local Chelsea Dixon’s usual role in a Naval ship.

Able Electronic Warfare Specialist (AEWS) Dixon attended Pukekohe High School before joining the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) in 2010. Chelsea has served in HMNZ Ships TE KAHA and OTAGO, where her role involved identifying any potential threats against the ship.

Currently deployed to Antarctica, Chelsea is one of four NZ Defence Force personnel providing 24/7 communications support at Scott Base.

The communications operators perform a vital role. They are Scott Base’s link to the outside world and operators answer a wide range of calls from all over the world. They also monitor all the scientists and workers in the field, providing weather updates and news broadcasts. The team works in eight hour shifts.

"This is so different from my usual job," said Chelsea. "It’s my first time down here in Antarctica, and I love it."

The NZ Defence Force team at Scott Base managed to fit in some Christmas celebrations, enjoying Christmas food and a secret Santa.

"It was my first Christmas away from my family but everyone made it special," adds Chelsea.

"I am really enjoying my time here, but six months goes so quick you need to make the most of every day. There are lots of awesome walks and sights to visit and the team tries to get out and about when we can. It’s a whole different world down here and one you are not likely to experience again. I’d recommend it to anyone who can get the opportunity."

The NZ Defence Force has been involved in Antarctica for over 50 years, helping New Zealand play its part in the international effort to safeguard the pristine environment. The NZ Defence Force and other New Zealand Government agencies have a very good relationship supporting Antarctica New Zealand and the US Antarctic Programme.

The NZ Defence Force has a team of eight personnel from Navy, Army and Air Force working in a number of support roles at Scott Base over the summer season, including plant maintenance, cargo handling and operations co-ordination.

Around 200 NZ Defence Force personnel will support the mission at various stages during the season – from Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C-130 and B747 flights moving supplies and personnel, to NZ Army Light Engineering Teams who carry out a number of projects to ensure facilities and equipment can withstand the harsh winters.

The NZ Defence Force mission will peak next month during the annual supply ship offload where Defence personnel will work round the clock in 24 hour daylight and freezing conditions to unload containers and move cargo to McMurdo and Scott Bases.


For more information please contact the Defence Communications Group media phone on 021 487 980.

This page was last reviewed on 4 February 2013.