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USCGC Polar Start at McMurdo Seaport
USCGC Polar Start at McMurdo Seaport

Ship Operations at the World’s Southernmost Seaport

McMurdo Station, Antarctic survives on the food, supplies, and fuel brought in via the air and sea. By far the most cargo comes in every year by sea, and McMurdo’s Seaport is the southernmost in the world. The port operates with an Ice Pier, and handles a variety of ships.

Here’s a few timelapse videos of the USCGC Polar Star and the Ocean Giant shipping vessel operating out of McMurdo. The US Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Star (WAGB-10) leaves McMurdo Station, Antarctica, breaking way for the shipping vessel Ocean Giant. Filmed on January 25-26, 2015 by Jeffrey Donenfeld at McMurdo Station, Antarctica

More on McMurdo’s port and Ice Pier from wikipedia:

An ice pier is a man-made structure used to assist the unloading of ships in Antarctica. It is constructed by pumping seawater into a contained area and allowing the water to freeze. By repeating this procedure several times, additional layers are built up. The final structure is many metres in thickness, and strong enough to support container trucks. Operation Deep Freeze personnel constructed the first floating ice pier at Antarctica’s southernmost sea port[1] at McMurdo Station in 1973.[2] Ice piers have been in use each summer season since, at McMurdo’s natural harbor at Winter Quarters Bay located at 77°50?S 166°40?E. The harbor is positioned on the southern tip of Ross Island.

Ships docking at the McMurdo Station ice pier rely upon icebreakers opening a ship channel from Upper McMurdo Sound to Winter Quarters Bay. One or more icebreakers, depending upon seasonal conditions, will typically open a channel from eight to 50 miles (80 km) long.[3]

However, in 2005 icebreakers encountered more than 90 miles (140 km) of pack ice blocking entry to McMurdo Sound.[4] The ice buildup occurred when a 100-mile-long iceberg (B15A) ran aground near Upper McMurdo Sound. Two icebreakers eventually broke a ship channel through to Winter Quarters Bay.

The ship channel provides a seaway for the few annual re-supply vessels and research ships which call upon the extraordinarily remote seaport at McMurdo Station. Preparation for the supply ships’ arrival includes icebreakers maintaining a uniform edge on the seaward side of the pier. The ship’s skipper maneuvers the icebreaker to use its bow as a giant battering ram to scarf or shave jagged edges from the pier to facilitate ships tying up at the dock.[2]

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