Antarctic Summer Job For Army Carpenter

24 January 2013

NZ Army Lance Corporal Tony Greig prepares the chapel at McMurdo Station for painting.

NZ Army Lance Corporal Tony Greig prepares the chapel at McMurdo Station for painting.

Spending the summer working in the ice and snow is not everyone’s idea of fun but for 42 year old NZ Army Lance Corporal (LCPL) Tony Greig working around McMurdo Station in Antarctica is a unique opportunity.

LCPL Greig, who attended Newlands College, joined the Army in January 1995, as he wanted an interesting career and was sick of being a self employed carpenter.

He has had a variety of roles in the Army including cook, data communications engineer and carpenter. He is currently based at Linton as part of the Engineer Support Squadron.

"Sports and fitness is a major component in my career. Normal physical training and extra personal training keeps me ahead of the younger soldiers," said LCPL Greig.

LCPL Greig is currently in Antarctica as part of a Light Engineering Team of 17 personnel who are performing a range of facilities maintenance tasks at McMurdo Station. Tasks include building a Bailey bridge, preparing and painting the chapel and welding work on the fuel pipeline.

The 100 foot Bailey bridge took three days to construct and was eased out over the sea ice to a specially build ice pier. The pier will be used to offload cargo from an icebreaker when it arrives in mid February. The annual supply ship offload involves personnel working around the clock in 24 hour daylight and freezing temperatures to unload shipping containers and move cargo to McMurdo Station and Scott Bases.

LCPL Greig said, "It’s my first time here and I am enjoying working in this incredibly unique environment. It’s also a very interesting experience living with the Americans at McMurdo."

The Defence Force has been involved in Antarctica for over 50 years, supporting Antarctica New Zealand and the US Antarctic Programme, helping New Zealand play its part in the international effort to safeguard this pristine environment. 

Around 200 Defence Force personnel will support the mission at various stages this season and the mission will peak in February with the deployment of the Ship Offload and Driver Support Teams. Throughout the season the tri-Service Scott Base Support Team provide communications, plant operations, cargo handling and operations scheduling support.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force provides a number of C-130 and B757 flights moving supplies and personnel, an Airdrop Rigging Team assists with a C-17 training drop, a small number of personnel support the US Air National Guard with maintenance tasks, and the Harewood Terminal Team in Christchurch are kept busy throughout the season. The Air Force also provides emergency recovery and search and rescue standby for US aircraft operations.

The Light Engineering Team, made up of Army personnel from 1 (NZ) Brigade - 2 Engineer Regiment and Combat Service Support units, will return to New Zealand in late February.


This page was last reviewed on 4 February 2013.