Extreme cold weather gear

March 10, 2009

Before the cruise began, everyone was issued a set of extreme cold weather gear (ECW). For those who had not been to Antarctica before, it was difficult to look through the standard gear allotment and judge whether it would be enough to stay warm. Everyone was issued a parka, insulated overalls, PVC rain gear, fleece pants and a fleece sweater, gloves of varying thicknesses and materials (wool, liners, insulated vinyl, and leather work gloves), mittens, hats, gaiters, long underwear, eye protection (goggles), and wool socks. Additional clothing was available including thicker parkas, thick canvas pants, overalls, and jackets, as well as balaclavas, insulated boots, and steel-toed rubber boots for deckwork.

The team prepares to launch the ROV IceCUBE.

The team prepares to launch the ROV IceCUBE.

The temperature inside of the ship is climate-controlled, so a long pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt is adequate to be comfortably warm. Outside is a different story—with wind chill and a massive iceberg floating less than a quarter of a mile away, standing outside for any length of time gets chilly quickly. Alana Sherman, Kim Reisenbichler, Ken Smith, Debbie Meyer, and Jake Ellena deployed ROV IceCUBE on her maiden voyage and waited outside the whole time the tethered vehicle was in the water – over four hours! To stay warm, everyone wore full-body Mustang suits, as shown on the left, which contain heavy insulation and floatation. Still, at the end of four hours, everyone was cold, and looked forward to warm showers and a hot dinner.

—Amanda Kahn