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USNS Matthiesen delivers for Operation Deep Freeze on final Antarctic voyage

By Capt. Steven Barclay
Master, USNS Richard G. Matthiesen

On Jan. 26, 2011, the USNS Richard G. Matthiesen arrived at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, to conduct the 26th and final Deep Freeze mission for the T-5 tanker series in support of the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

During this final Antarctic voyage, the USNS Matthiesen refueled the IB Oden, the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer, and delivered over 5.5 million gallons of fuel to McMurdo Station, enough to operate for one year.

To commemorate the occasion, the USNS Matthiesen, on behalf of Ocean Ships Inc., presented the vessel's builder's plaque and a ceremonial life ring signed by all crew members to the National Science Foundation on Feb. 2, at the NSF Chalet in McMurdo Station. Among those present were Capt. Steven Barclay, master of the USNS Matthiesen, Ice Pilot Capt. Rick Beede, Chief Engineer Peter Gorman, Chief Mate Christopher Brown, Jessie Crain of the NSF and Larry Larsson, MSC representative.

The builder's plaque and life ring will be permanently displayed at the Chalet as a testament to the professionalism of the officers and crew of the USNS Matthiesen, as well as the M/V Gus W. Darnell, M/V Samuel L. Cobb, USNS Paul Buck and the USNS Lawrence H. Gianella. During their 26-year run, the Champion Class tankers delivered more than 137 million gallons of fuel to McMurdo Station, with zero environmental incidents.

Upon her departure from McMurdo Station on Feb. 5, the USNS Richard G. Matthiesen proceeded to Mobile, Ala., for decommissioning. On March 15, the USNS Richard G. Matthiesen entered Mobile Bay for the final time, where the vessel was struck from the U.S. Navy's registry of active vessels, and was turned over to the Maritime Administration.

I would like to extend my personal thanks and appreciation to all of the officers and crew of the USNS Matthiesen who made the daily operations a success, including those who did not make the final voyage. They are Chief Engineer Ron Bernhardt, Chief Mate Carl Schoenbucher, and Chief Mate David Vanier. With your help, not only was Operation Deep Freeze a success, the USNS Matthiesen retired with an intact streak of 3,348 days without any lost time due to an injury. More than nine years! Thank you and congratulations.

Editor's Note: The USNS Gianella is currently serving in a prepositioning role under a new contract awarded by Military Sealift Command to Ocean Ships.
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