Late summer is the season for ships. I have mentioned the ice breakers several times. This year the Swedish icebreaker, Oden, was here as well as the US Coast Guard ice breaker, Polar Sea. The ice breakers clear a channel through the sea ice for the various ships that need to come to McMurdo every summer to resupply the station. The US Antarctic Program runs on fuel and one of the most important activities that happens here has nothing to do with science. It is the arrival of the fuel tanker to deliver fuel for the next year's operations. Here is a picture of the Polar Sea and the fuel tanker parked at the ice pier. The cargo resupply ship, American Tern, is here now and during this time, "ship offload" is a 24-hour operation. There are about 70 Navy Cargo Handing Personnel ( Nav-chaps) here to help with this proceedure. Mostly, cranes on the ship lift shipping containers onto flat bed trucks that drive up the hill. The cargo is unpacked, sorted and delivered to various work stations and warehouses. Much of this work takes place outside and the weather during offload is notorious for being cold, windy and harsh. When the ship leaves it will be loaded with a year's worth of garbage as well as a few containers with scientific gear and our precious samples.
There are also research ships that come to McMurdo and occasionally tourist ships. Here is a picture of the Palmer which is one of the research vessels opperated by the US Antarctic Program. Sometimes the Palmer comes to McMurdo to offload a crew of scientists and staff and onload a new group for the next science cruise. Research on the Palmer includes biology, geology, and oceanography, so the ship travels all around the continent during the year in support of different projects.