The New Zealand Defence Force transported about 260 scientists and support personnel and 83 tonnes of vital supplies to Antarctica for the summer season, renewing a vital lifeline for scientists working on the icy continent.
9 December 2016
The New Zealand Defence Force has just completed its airlift support flights to Antarctica for the summer season, renewing a vital lifeline for scientists working on the icy continent.
Lieutenant Commander Ross Hickey, the NZDF’s Senior National Officer on the continent, said the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s C-130 and Boeing 757-200 aircraft transported about 260 scientists and support personnel and 83 tonnes of vital supplies for the 2016-17 summer season.
On average, the Air Force’s yearly airlift missions to Antarctica ferried about 320 passengers and 40 tonnes of freight, Lieutenant Commander Hickey said.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the NZDF’s air support made an important contribution to scientific research in Antarctica through the Joint Logistics Pool.
“We have been supporting New Zealand and American scientists carrying out vital research on the continent since our first air cargo mission to Antarctica in 1965. In recent years we’ve also supported the Italian mission at Terra Nova Bay. The NZDF is committed to maintaining this close partnership with Antarctica New Zealand and the US Antarctic programmes,” Major General Gall said.
The NZDF also provides search and rescue support, air transport, terminal operations at Harewood Terminal in Christchurch and McMurdo Station, and support for the unloading of the annual container ship.
Up to 220 NZDF personnel - including air crew and ground support staff, passenger and cargo facilitation staff, logistics staff, fuel specialists, Army engineers and heavy plant operators, cargo handlers and communications specialists - are deployed during the summer season to support Scott Base and McMurdo.
The 2016-17 research season marks the 60th anniversary of New Zealand’s operational presence in Antarctica and the construction of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hut.
Pegasus Field, the southernmost of three airfields serving McMurdo Station, closed officially after the last RNZAF C-130 flight on 8 December. It will be replaced by a new runway called Phoenix Airfield, which is about five kilometres northwest of Pegasus.