Summer Resupply Activities Were Going 24/7


Opening Thule Harbor for Summer Resupply

By July the sun was up all day, the top inch or two of permafrost had warmed and turned to mud, and only our harbor ice remained after the open sea ice melted. Greenland Ice Summer officially started for us on July 4th. The U.S. Coast Guard ice breaker had sailed up the coast to break up the sea ice still frozen in North Star Bay where our docks were located. They worked a few days before the 4th breaking up all the harbor ice except for the last area around the docks.

Then on the 4th of July the ice breaker ceremoniously completed opening the harbor with a good size audience watching from the docks.

Coast Guard ice breaker

As the base Telecommunications Officer, it was my job to provide telephone service to the ships at the dock so the crews could call home. It was no accident that I was one of the first to be invited aboard for a little celebration.

Reception at the dockThe resupply ships were not far behind and the activity on base really exploded getting ready to unload the supply ships from the U.S. and Denmark. The harbor is only open and free of ice for two months of the year.

On July 5th things really got underway for the resupply of Thule Air Base. Once the harbor ice was broken up, the supply ships came in and unloaded 24 hours a day in the continuous sunshine. The temperature was usually in the high 40 and low 50 F. degree range. All of the needed supplies, except for fresh food, for the next 12 months had to be unloaded and stored.

Cape Athol LORAN Station Resupply

Ship to Athol The U.S. Coast Guard LORAN (LOng RAnge Navigation) Station at Cape Athol was resupplied out of Thule. A couple of friends and I rode along down the coast to the station on the U.S ship "Redbud" (WLB-398) to take them fuel oil for the next year.

There was no boat dock at Cape Athol, so everything had to be transported to shore on a landing craft, then man-handled across the rocky beach. Worked up a sweat then got really cold. Really tough at times!

Unloading supplies at Cape Athol

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The fuel oil was pumped ashore through this large hose with floats attached. Unloading fuel oil at Athol

While the ship was pumping the fuel oil, I sat on the beach in the balmy 19 F. degree (-7 C.) weather. Hey, I take what I can get after a winter at -30 F. degrees!

Taking a break on the beach


Canadian Base "Alert" Resupply

The Canadians also resupplied their most northern site from Thule. The station was named "Alert". Two of us went up on one of the around-the-clock supply C130 flights riding on a load of lumber. Not a first class seat but it was all that was available, and it was free. (Read about that trip to Canadian Station "Alert" here.)

Loading supplies for Alert


Many Interesting Projects In Summer

There were many interesting research projects usually going on at Thule AB in the summer. Here is a rocket about to be shot up to study the upper atmosphere.

Arctic Rocket launch.

While the harbor was open, the Danish ship Edith Nielsen came to take a 20-ton meteor piece back to Denmark that was discovered five years earlier at Cape York.

Agpalilik meteorite

Above is a snapshot of me and the iron meteorite that fell nearly 10,000 years ago. This piece was found in 1963 by V.F. Buchwald near Agpalilik. This is a piece of the larger Cape York meteorite found in the same region by Robert Perry in 1894. The larger Cape York piece is in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

This meteorite is named Agpalilik, and it is the sixth largest in the world. It now is on display in the Geological Museum at University of Copenhagen, Denmark.(Shown below)

Agpalilik meteorite

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© Copyright 1999, revised 2014 by Lawrence Rodrigues
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