Jack Tar meets Jack Frost in Antarctic survey

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Michael Kumpis (author)

Location(s): Davis Station

Topic(s): Australian Hydrographic Service, Operations

Leading Seaman McKee preparing the Antarctic Survey Vessel, Wyatt Earp, for Operation Southern Discovery. (photo: Unknown)
Leading Seaman McKee preparing the Antarctic Survey Vessel, Wyatt Earp, for Operation Southern Discovery.

When Leading Seaman Marine Technician Shaun McKee joined the Navy he never anticipated that he would be located on the highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent in the world.
 
After eight years in the Navy he has found himself deployed in a role working at both Casey and Mawson Stations as part of Operation SOUTHERN DISCOVERY for two Antarctic seasons.
 
Leading Seaman McKee 'cut his teeth' in the warmer Darwin climate patrolling onboard Armidale class patrol boat, HMAS Glenelg, supporting border protection operations but seized a rare opportunity to join the Australian Navy Hydrographers in the region as their electrical technical maintainer. 
 
The Deployable Geospatial Support Team undertook Antarctic medicals and conducted pre-departure training with the Australian Antarctic Division, in preparation for the trip.
 
Leading Seaman McKee had an additional challenging task of preparing the Antarctic Survey Vessel, Wyatt Earp, for the operation.
 
“Shortly after all the training was completed, Wyatt Earp was loaded onto Aurora Australis on voyage one for the trip down south,” Leading Seaman McKee said.
 
On arrival at Davis Station, the team were kept busy undertaking all the required station inductions, survival training and were keen to check out the survey vessel and all equipment to ensure that it had survived the trip across the Southern Ocean.
 
The sea ice finally broke out shortly after New Year’s Day and survey operations commenced in earnest which required Leading Seaman McKee to use all his Navy training and experience to keep the systems running and the team on task.
 
“It was an amazing opportunity to be selected to be part of the team and Antarctica is a remarkable place with a great sense of community within the station,” he said.
 
Darts is a popular pastime at Davis Station and Leading Seaman McKee has already proven himself a competent player, having made it through the first few rounds of the singles competition. 
 
The focus of the operation includes biological, oceanographic and meteorological experiments and observations.
 
The team will return in Aurora Australis at the end of February.