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Take people from all over the country, from all walks of life, and from the entire ethnic and socio-economic spectrum, toss them together in this stunningly beautiful, exotic, and hazardous landscape, then season the mixture with isolation and deprivation. There's a lot of snow to cover, and I'm bound to forget things, so I welcome any and all input from fellow Antarcticans on the culture of our favorite southern land.In addition, though I've tried to be as accurate as possible, much of what follows is entirely subjective, based on my own experience. Navy Sea Bees built the Mc Murdo Sound Air Operations Facility, which would later become Mc Murdo Station. Navy personnel and Navy facilities generated power and fresh water, cooked and served the food, maintained the roads, repaired the vehicles, managed communications, and maintained the buildings.

With 1200 hundred people bustling about, and with everyone extremely busy, it's impossible to meet and know everyone. In fact, for the first couple of weeks of main body, it's not unusual to have 200 people arrive every week! This is much less the case at South Pole, and not at all the case at Palmer.

Just two kilometers away, at Pram Point, sits New Zealand's Scott Base. Dorm rooms would be considered tiny for one person, but they are assigned to two.

And, of course, residents of each base frequently visit the other base's pubs, leading to a fair amount of cultural cross-pollination. The scientists mix in with the support personnel, doing their part of base clean-up and kitchen duties.

(In fact, that is a long-standing tradition at Palmer.

During the summer months, numerous cruise ships and private yachts stop by.

Though it's always good to see new people, the visits can be so frequent and so obtrusive that they puts the work of the station in jeopardy.For many years, then, Mc Murdo society was composed of four separate elements, each with its own rules and group culture: the Navy, the civilian contractor, the scientists, and the NSF managers. The responsibility for that rests on the people; whether civilian or military, most of the folks who end up in Antarctica give it their best effort.It was not unusual for one entity to give permission for something, only to have another entity immediately revoke it, amidst much finger-pointing and hand-waving. Despite the occasional personality conflicts, the vast majority of people go out of their way to assist others, no matter what group they're in--and this has always been the case. maintains three permanent, year round stations in the Antarctic: Mc Murdo station, on Ross Island in the southern Ross Sea; Palmer Station, on Anvers Island near the Peninsula; and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Stations are nothing if not high density, especially in the summer.In response to the question: "What is the main purpose of the Antarctic Program, science or presence? The Army handled logistics and transport, the Air Force flew planes full of supplies and people, and the U. Coast Guard brought in icebreakers to support the resupply vessels." the NSF Representative answered, "Science" and the Navy Captain answered, "Presence" at exactly the same time. But the Navy was in overall charge, and they always had the most personnel in Mc Murdo.The lucky scientists (called "grantees") receive the money they need to do the Antarctic (or Arctic) research they proposed. A private contractor was brought in to takeover these functions.

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