APLIS POSTCARD #3
14 March 2007
Greetings from APLIS. Today was our last day before the first submarine arrives. A lot of last minute camp preparations - getting the last of the living huts set up, making sure the tracking range works, and installing some of the test equipment. And now that we have a helicopter, we have been able to survey the area looking for the right kind of ice to use for our testing and finding good places for the submarines to surface once they arrive.
We are now a small village operating here in the middle of the Beaufort Sea. Although many of us have worked together on previous ICEXs, we have just as many residents who are new to the Arctic community. But like any small, close-knit population, there’s a real sense of community. We all share the common goal of wanting this exercise to be successful and we are all sharing the experience of living in a true wilderness.
All of this is made possible by the hard work of the people ashore at our logistics site at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Now, about the name. The term “Prudhoe Bay” has many different meanings. Prudhoe Bay itself is an indentation along the north coast of Alaska, approximately 200 miles southeast of Point Barrow. “Prudhoe Bay” is also used to refer to the oil development region which has built up in the proximity of this bay. And it is also used to refer to the most significant village in the region. However, for reasons shrouded in Arctic mists, the village - and most especially its airport - are also called "Deadhorse". So the names are used interchangeably.
Beautiful Downtown Deadhorse
Everything that went into building this camp, everything we need to survive, and everything were using for testing passed through their hands - the lumber to build our buildings, the food we eat, pens, shovels, sleeping bags, radios, and, of course, ourselves.
Our team in Prudhoe Bay make this possible. Every day, they are loading aircraft, greeting arrivals at the airport, and handling last minute requests. Arctic Submarine Lab’s Mke Hacking, Charlie Johnson, and Jim Hadden along with Petty Officer Jackie Banks from Submarine Squadron Eleven have worked as hard as anyone here at the camp - and often in temperatures colder than here at the camp. Thanks in no small part to them, we have what is probably the best equipped and luxurious ice camp ever. It’s up to us to put it to good use.
After a lot of work and planning, we’ve got everything in place for the start of two weeks of intensive submarine camp operations and testing. This is the place where I was going to say that USS ALEXANDRIA is supposed to arrive in the morning and bla bla bla. But I’ can’t say that because ALEX already arrived! About 10 o’clock tonight - and 8 hours early - we heard them call us up on underwater telephone. Overnight, we’ll work with them to ensure that our tracking range is giving us a continuous update on the submarine’s whereabouts and then, just after dawn, a surfacing.
Arctic Submarine Laboratory