Penguins, seals, icebergs, blizzards and a celebrity visit are routine encounters for two Royal Australian Navy officers deployed to Casey Research Station, Antarctica.
Commanders Rebecca Jeffcoat and Jo Haynes have had an icy start to the New Year as they perform their new roles in Operation SOUTHERN DISCOVERY. Casey Research Station provides the infrastructure and operational support capability to undertake a large portion of Australia's Antarctic land based science programs.
Commander Jeffcoat is the Station Leader at Casey for twelve months. As Station Leader, Commander Jeffcoat is responsible for ensuring research programs receive the necessary support when on the ground in Antarctica.
“It’s my responsibility to bring together an effective and highly resilient team from a diverse group of people in the harshest environment in the world. My previous experience as Commanding Officer of HMAS Kuttabul set me up perfectly for this role. It’s much the same except fewer people, much more isolated, and quite a bit colder,” Commander Jeffcoat said.
“This deployment is the fulfilment of a life-time dream; to follow in the footsteps of Mawson and Shackleton and to contribute to the advancement of the scientific understanding of this incredible place. It’s also an amazing opportunity to build on my skills as a leader. I look forward to putting those skills to use back in the Navy on my return.”
Commander Haynes is working with the Bureau of Meteorology as a forecaster for the summer season. Her job is to provide land, maritime and aviation weather forecasts and briefs in support of the Australian Antarctic Division’s operations. When she is not on deployment, Commander Haynes leads an operational planning team at Headquarters Joint Operations Command.
“There are very few people in the world who are afforded the opportunity to ever set foot in Antarctica and I feel extremely privileged to be here,” Commander Haynes said.
“Forecasting for such an extreme, remote and unique environment is challenging and has provided me with an excellent opportunity to enhance my specialist skills in meteorology and oceanography.”
During time away from the office, Commanders Jeffcoat and Haynes are taking every opportunity to explore the wilderness surrounding Casey Station. Off-station expeditions include visiting penguin rookeries on nearby islands and overnight trips to the huts scattered through the station operating area within Eastern Antarctica, which are accessible by various modes of transport including on foot, over-snow vehicles, aircraft and small boats. The station was also visited recently by international actor Sam Neill, on a documentary making assignment.
Australian Defence Force personnel deployed for Operation SOUTHERN DISCOVERY provide support to the Australian Antarctic Program. In addition to Commanders Jeffcoat and Haynes, a number of other ADF members will deploy to three Australian Antarctic stations throughout the summer season, including Royal Australian Air Force C-17 aircraft crew and support personnel, a Royal Australian Navy hydrographic survey team, and a team of Australian Army surveyors.