Friday, March 07, 2008

USNS Lawrence H. Gianella, skate skiing, and Kiwis are cooler

Just look at the nice clean fuel burning tanker coming to port in this pristine environment.

Talking about the Palmer got me in the mood to blog about our other ship visitors. On Monday, January 28th, we had our third ship of the season come in. This one was a fuel tanker, the USNS Lawrence H. Gianella. The tanker is a United States Military Sealift Command tanker which has been used as the tanker for McMurdo fuel supply a number of times. We unload the fuel over a few days. Over those few days we aren't allowed in the area because of the fuel lines that are strung across the hiking paths. It is hard for me to fathom that everything we need to stay warm for a year is on that one ship.

A rare chance when all three ships were in the sound.

Once the icebreaker comes in, it hangs around for most of the season to escort vessels into port. When the Gianella came in, it was the busiest the sound was all season. The Palmer just happened to be in the area for a research cruise which made for a grand total of three ships. It is hard to explain why, but people seemed excited that there was so much traffic going on in the sound. I guess maybe it just provided a little variety.

The Lawrence H. Gianella comes to port.

The Gianella came to port at a gorgeous time of day - just around midnight. It was cold, but there wasn't much wind. The lighting was simply amazing. The only bad part about a tie up at that time was that it was off work hours and I still had to make it to work on time the next day. Line handling is best in the middle of the day when it gets you out of work.

Parallel parking that made some cool effect in the still water.

The Oden had side thrusters (?) to make getting the ship tied up pretty easy. Unfortunately, the Gianella had to do it the old fashion way which was pretty much parallel parking. It took forever and I was not a fan because even though it was beautiful, it was also cold and I was tired. After they did get close enough, we still had to time them up and that ended up taking forever because the lines they kept throwing us kept snapping. They throw one small line tied to a large line. We pull the small line in and then put the big one on the giant cleat. The giant cleat has a different name, but I can't remember it. Anyway, when we pulled the small line, it would break.

Buried tie up wires.

One of the neat things about this ship, was it was the first one that was going to use the cleats on short instead of on the ice pier. It had to use them because it was a longer ship. We grabbed their lines and then attached to an eye in a wire cable that extended to the shore. It was then the ships job to pull that wire tight. Unfortunately, the wire cable had frozen under quite a bit of ice from last year so they had to pull on it pretty hard to get it to break out of the ice. In the corner of picture above, you can see two of the buried lines.

The stern of the Gianella, Mt. Discovery, and the Oden on a beautiful night.

Last night was fantastic. I went out for my first skate ski since Meg and Annie left. Nick, Candy, Jody, Dan, and I went. I was back to being the ugly duckling as it first learned to walk. It is weird. Sometimes, I can find the rhythm and nail it. Other times, I'm struggling not to duff it. It was Candy's first time on skate skis and she did way better than I did my first time. Kudos to her.

We are officially in the winter season so there are no shuttles running to catch a ride from. We aren't allowed to use government vehicles for recreational use so to get to where we can skate ski, we need to walk 2.25 miles to Scott Base and the transition. That eats up a lot of time if you are in a hurry. At Scott Base, we picked up Jody and Dan who are Kiwis that work over there. From there, they informed us we wouldn't be walking to the transition but would be taking an ATV 4 wheeler with a trailer the rest of the way. It wasn't far, but it made it go quicker. We skied and it was great. I didn't realized how much I had missed it. When we were done, they used their vehicle to take us half way home which included taking us up the the first monster hill. This past Sunday, I also saw Dan snowboarding with a partner using a snow machine. One of them would give the other a ride up the hill and then they'd switch. Amazing. The Kiwis have SO MUCH more freedom to recreate than we do. Maybe I need to apply to work over there . . .

Tomorrow, another ship post.


  1. hello my dancing friend.

    Kiwis can be one of three things:
    1) A small flighless bird from New Zealand best seen in this movie (different from the last link to a picture).

    2)The fablously tasty and slightly hairy fruit

    3) A person of New Zealand descent.