Operation Deep Freeze 2011-2012 begins

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Late winter flights, known as WINFLY, for Operation Deep Freeze 2011-2012 began August 20.

Deep Freeze is a joint service, interagency activity that supports the National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program.

Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, the commander of 13th Air Force, is dual-hatted as the commander of Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica, based at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The joint task force's main summer season in Antarctica is slated to begin Sept. 28.

A C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa., began delivering passengers and cargo to the NSF McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in support of the United States Antarctic Program. Scientists and support personnel at the station will start pre-summer projects, augment maintenance personnel, and prepare skiways, ice runways and an ice pier.

The airlift part of Operation Deep Freeze operates from two primary locations with C-17s situated at Christchurch, New Zealand and LC-130 Hercules forward based at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, beginning in late October.

The operation year is divided into three main phases: WINFLY, which is currently ongoing, followed by the main summer season and the winter phase. WINFLY is the preparation phase between winter and summer when additional support personnel arrive to prepare the station for the upcoming science field season.

NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program through which it coordinates all U.S. scientific research on the southernmost continent and aboard ships in the Southern Ocean as well as related logistics support.

"WINFLY missions are important for total force C-17 crews," said Lt. Col. Edward Vaughan, the Deep Freeze interim director of joint operations. "Aside from hauling support passengers and cargo, the National Science Foundation also permits a night-vision goggle training mission. This annual training mission ensures that C-17 crews are prepared to execute their mission in Antarctica year round."

U.S. military support for Operation Deep Freeze is a Pacific Command responsibility organized as Joint Task Forc -Support Forces Antarctica. The Joint Task Force includes cargo and fuel tanker ships provided by Military Sealift Command, active- duty and Reserve C-17 support from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at JB Lewis-McChord, ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules flown by the 109th AW of the New York Air National Guard, as well as Coast Guard icebreakers and the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One to provide critical port services at McMurdo Station.

The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has therefore provided annual support to U.S. Antarctic research since Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd began such operations in 1955.

For more information about Operation Deep Freeze, contact Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica Public Affairs at 808-449-7985 or by email at 13af.pa@hickam.af.mil. To learn more about the U.S. Antarctic Program, visit the official website at www.usap.gov.

(Courtesy of Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica Public Affairs)