OPERATION:

DEEP FREEZE

By Peter Torstensen and Erickson Enriquez

Unlike most vessels, the Maersk Peary has travelled to one of the world's most remote and inaccessible destinations: Antarctica. Even though the captain has tried the voyage before, it remains a challenging mission.

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As the Ice Class Tanker Maersk Peary makes its way down through the southern hemisphere, small icebergs start appearing around the vessel. The crew on board intensifies their lookout from the bridge while the temperature keeps crawling down. "Operation Deep Freeze" is well underway.

"To sail these waters is unique - we are probably one of the very few ships down here," says Captain Everett M. Hatton, who has planned this trip carefully.

The waters Hatton refers to is the Southern Ocean - the ocean embracing Antarctica.

Carrying 25,000 tons of jet fuel along with various supplies, Maersk Peary is heading down south to pay its annual visit to the United States Antarctic research centre, McMurdo Base.

"To sail these waters is unique -
we are probably one of the very few
ships down here."

Captain Everett M. Hatton
of the Maersk Peary

Finding the safe route

Built as an Ice Class Tanker, Maersk Peary is capable of going through newly formed ice of up to 0,6 meters thick. The ice that has been around for years, however, is much thicker and harder than the fresh ice. The older ice is also bluer in colour compared to the fresh white ice, so this is just one of the elements that the crew needs to be on the look-out for.

"If you hit thick ice, chances are that it will puncture a hole, and then the ship could sink," Hatton says.

Explore the route of Maersk Peary

Maersk Peary is 591-foot-long and can carry up to 11.4 million gallons of fuel with 20 crew and 2 cadets onboard. It has a 15,000 horse power engine to drive the vessel through the ice.

When not travelling to the extreme Polar Regions, Maersk Peary can be found servicing US military installations in various locations around the world. Maersk Peary was named after Admiral Robert E. Peary - the first person to discover the North Pole in 1909.

The Southern Ocean is inaccessible for some 10 months of the year, and only during the summer season of mid-January to mid-March are ships able to navigate it safely. Even during summer, the crew has to stay alert at all times

Two weeks after departing Freemantle in Australia, Captain Everett M. Hatton manoeuvres the Maersk Peary into the floating ice berth and has his crew fire the heaving lines onto the shore to assist in securing the vessel.

After having dropped off fuel and supplies for the McMurdo Base, Maersk Peary continues up to New Zealand where crew and vessel prepare for a new mission. Maersk Peary and Captain Hatton are always ready for another trip through the ice down to Antarctica.

Maersk Peary is 591-foot-long and can carry up to 11.4 million gallons of fuel with 20 crew and 2 cadets onboard. It has a 15,000 horse power engine to drive the vessel through the ice.

When not travelling to the extreme Polar Regions, Maersk Peary can be found servicing US military installations in various locations around the world. Maersk Peary was named after Admiral Robert E. Peary - the first person to discover the North Pole in 1909.

Harsh environments

The Southern Ocean is inaccessible for some 10 months of the year, and only during the summer season of mid-January to mid-March are ships able to navigate it safely. Even during summer, the crew has to stay alert at all times.

From the bridge they have to spot various types of floating ice as well as find safe routes to navigate the fast ice in northern Ross Sea, where McMurdo is located.

When outside conditions are so extreme, Hatton must rely a great deal on his equipment and his well-prepared crew as weather conditions prevent them from being outside and on the deck for longer periods.

"There are times when we need someone on the bow for lookout ahead due to fog or snow. It is just too cold for a seaman to stand up there for long,"" says Hatton.

"At times like that we depend on ice radar, infra-red cameras and detailed satellite imagery. Even with our advanced equipment, experience, training and planning are required to prepare for the risks and to keep constant care of the vessel, crew and cargo.""

"If we have any problems, it is
not just like you can call

MAYDAY! MAYDAY!

because there is no one around here.
There is no reason to be down here unless
you are going to Antarctica."

Antarctica is the coldest of Earth's
continents. The coldest natural temperature
ever recorded on Earth was −89.2 °C in
Antarctica on 21 July 1983.

There are several government research
stations on the continent. There are about
1000 people in winter and about 5000 people
in the summer working in Antarctica.

About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice
that averages 1,9 kilometres in thickness.

Made it through the ice


Luckily, Hatton and his crew navigate Maersk Peary safely to Antarctica without any incidents.

Two weeks after they departed Freemantle in Australia, Captain Everett M. Hatton maneuvers the Maersk Peary into the floating ice berth and has his crew fire the heaving lines onto the shore to assist in securing the vessel.

A mission that can't fail

On its voyage, the Maersk Peary has encountered waves up to twelve meters high and cut its way through ice up to half a meter thick.

Moored safely at the McMurdo base, the crew starts to unload not only the jet fuel, but also all the various supplies for the people working on the base.

"To me this is a mission that can't fail. We have to stay safe, so we can finish our mission," Hatton says.

"To me this is a mission that can't fail. We have to stay safe, so we can finish our mission."

Road Less Traveled


The fact that only a very limited number of people get to travel to Antarctica – and that it is very inaccessible – drew the attention of TV-Anchor Jonathan Leg. He, together with the production company SD-Media, specializes in producing TV-shows from remote areas of the world. On board Maersk Peary they produced an episode of the popular TV-show "The Road Less Traveled" as the vessel made its way through the ice down to Antarctica.

"On paper it's an operation full of risk, but once we got to know the crew and Captain Hatton I was so confident in their collective knowledge and ability that I never worried," Legg explains.

"There was a time or two when I contemplated the horror of falling overboard, and when we went to the bow to watch the Peary displace ice, I thought about the ramifications of getting Titanic-ed. Certainly sailors have traditionally lived and worked in the shadow of great danger, but nowadays with the technology, training, and talent aboard a ship like the Peary, I'd sail through the proverbial lake of fire with these guys.... just maybe not on a fuel ship," Legg says.

Read more about "Road Less Traveled" and stay tuned for the airing of the episode recorded on board Maersk Peary.


Visit the site of "Road Less Traveled"