A group of army drivers have left New Zealand to brave the Antarctic cold to unload a year's worth of supplies for scientists.
The 20 experienced drivers left on Friday to take about 3000 tonnes of supplies off a ship for scientists working in the world's coldest and most remote natural laboratory.
Sgt Kat Wise, who is in charge of the driving team, has hauled cargo through the Sinai Peninsula, Timor-Leste and Antarctica during her 14-year career as a Defence Force driver. She said that though all the drivers were experienced in driving Class 5 vehicles, more training would be done on the ice to familiarise them with the different road conditions in Antarctica.
"The conditions on the continent are workable but they can change dramatically during the day.
"On some days or a part of the day you'll have sunny, blue skies. But the weather can suddenly turn, with a heavy blizzard and fog creating treacherous conditions on the road."
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Major Gen Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the mission was another example of how the NZDF was making a tangible contribution to Antarctic science.
"Our military truck drivers are experienced in driving in all types of terrain," he said.
"Many of them deployed previously in active combat zones and they have been trained to drive on ice to transport 40-foot containers containing up to 28 tonnes of supplies."
The cargo ship Ocean Giant will have food supplies for the next 12 months, construction material, scientific equipment, vehicles, general supplies and maintenance equipment.
Up to 200 NZDF personnel are deployed during the summer season to support Scott Base and McMurdo.
Scott Base, New Zealand's permanent research support station on the continent, is home to about 85 researchers.