31 March 2007

Position:  San Diego, CA

Temperature:  74ºF


I’m home.  Just getting home was a reminder of how remote we were at APLIS.  Thursday, I left the camp and spent the night at Deadhorse Airport.  Friday, I made it as far Anchorage, Alaska then today made it all the way home.  Decompressing little by little from camp to civilization.


It’s now three weeks since I left home for APLIS.  Looking back sometimes, it seems more like three months and, at other times, like the time just flew by.  It will be awhile before I can put the whole experience into perspective.  I’ve been doing most of the taking in these postcards.  So for this final one, I asked my campmates, old hands & newbies alike, to contribute their impressions.


“It’s been an honour and priviledge to have been associated with such a fine body of men and women who have come, stayed, and gone whilst I have been at HMS APLIS, the UK’s latest aircraft carrier (latitude restricted).”


Petty Officer Darren Davies, RN

                              Maritime Warfare Centre




“I’d like to thank the Arctic Submarine Lab and the Applied Physics Lab for my adventure on the ice.  It has been a rewarding experience both personally and professionally.  I never thought that my master’s thesis would take me to the Arctic - I am grateful for this opportunity.”


                              LT Tim McGeehan

                              Naval Postgraduate School


“This has been a once in a lifetime experience.  I have really appreciated ArcticSubmarine Lab’s leadership and willingness to bring me on as part of the team. Along with the great support from the APL staff, we gathered valuable data and will go home with great memories, experience and knowledge that will further arctic research. Thanks for everything!”


                              LT John Bleidorn

                              Naval Postgraduate School




“Set against a backdrop of simple beauty in its rawest form, the APLIS camp has been a roller coaster ride of many different emotions and experiences.  Yet, despite all of the challenges, it has been a pleasure to have been part of a professional, cooperative, and confident team that operated successfully in such a remote, forbidding part of the planet.”


                        LtCdr Stuart Capes, RN                                                                                      Fleet Submarine Navigation Officer





“An experience like no other.  The stunning beauty of the arctic ice surrounds the APLIS 2007 camp.  But it is the warmth and camaraderie of the people that fill it.  A once in a lifetime experience.”


                        Bruce Woloshyn

                        Rainmaker Inc.

                        Special Effects for Stargate




“After it’s all done & looked back upon, it always looks better than the sore knees & sore back allows.  The camp went very will with a minimum of significant problems.  There is always a chance for nature to play tricks on us at these camps.”


                        Fred Karig


                        Camp Manager



“This has been the “coolest” cooking experience ever, haute-cuisine in the High Arctic.”


                        Trina Litchendorf


                        APLIS Chef




“I was really glad that the weather was always good.”


                        Lambert De Gavere

                        ERA Helicopters

                        Helo Pilot




“A unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  It’s pretty much beyond anything you can imagine.”


                        LCDR Mike Johnson, USN

                        CSDS-5 Operations Officer

                        APLIS Range Safety Officer


“.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .”



                        APLIS Mascot




“You can hear about it but until you experience it, you have no idea.”


                        LCDR Paul Acquavella, USN

                        COMSUBPAC Senior Watch Officer

                        APLIS Range Safety Officer





“All I can say is "Wow"!  How lucky am I to have a job that involves typical days in the office like floating on an Ice keel in the Arctic, watching out for polar bears while sneaking peeks of a film crew filming a movie, assisting both U.S. and British officers track submarine activity going on directly beneath you.  All while getting three great meals a day!


There is a lot of work involved in making such an extraordinary event like this happen and I am proud to be one of the many who worked on making it happen. Every little detail really needs to thought out because once you have came this far it becomes a real problem to take care of even the little things if you don't have what you need in camp.  Things like "where are the extra printer cartridges?"  to "I am looking for a 7/16" wrench so I can take this apart and fit it into the helicopter" are among the gazillions of questions heard daily by Jeff Gossett sitting in the Command hut and by Fred Karig who seems to endlessly be out in the field.  His amazing gang of people from APL power, feed, and built most of this home away from home.  The group in Prudhoe plays equally an important role in coordinating traffic, supplies and people to and from the camp.  It is no small task I can assure you after having worked with Mike Hacking and Charlie Johnson in the beginning of this ICEX.


I should have brought more socks, fewer shirts and less money.  The only thing cash is good for up here is burning for heat!  Oh well, I can chalk it to being a newbie.  I can thank Pat McKeown for teaching me the definition of an Arctic expert.  "Someone who has been to the Arctic one time or more than 18 times" There is a lot of truth to that statement.  You feel like you kinda know a lot about the Arctic after being here for so long, but the truth is this environment will eat you alive if it gets half a chance.  Admire it, love it, play in it but ALWAYS respect it!!


Would I do it again? I am already looking for the sign up sheet!”


                        Jim Hadden

                        Arctic Submarine Laboratory



I asked Jim for 1 or 2 sentences & he gave me all that!


Before closing, I must thank a lot of people.  First, those who contributed to these postcards, including those quoted above, plus Doc DeMers, Victoria Simms, & Amanda Tapping.  Next, to everybody who provided the photographs that helped bring these postcards to life.  And finally, to the 100+ people who lived, worked, and passed through Ice Camp APLIS over the past couple weeks - they made all of this possible.


Jeff Gossett

Arctic Submarine Laboratory