Antarctica PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant Op Deep Freeze DF 65 Navy Patch / Seabees For Sale

Antarctica PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant Op Deep Freeze DF 65 Navy Patch / Seabees

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Antarctica PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant Op Deep Freeze DF 65 Navy Patch / Seabees:

(Very Rare! Made in New Zealand)

Not Fake Vietnam Made Version


PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant

Deep Freeze

DF 65

McMurdo Station

Navy SeabeesPatch

Condition: Used, but in real nice shape. See pictures.

The patch is5 inches indiameter. It has cut edges. On the back it has the maker: N. W. ROBINSON, MONOGRAMS & PENNANTS, 228A HIGH STREET CHRISTCHURCH. Christchurch is a city in New Zealand.

This patch has been purchased twice in the last couple of years, and the buyers (with "0" responses) never paid. I believe this to be the work of the people selling the fake versions of this exceptionally rare patch, and they do not like having this authentic version listed for a reference against their fraud.

McMurdo Station is a U.S. Antarctic research center located on the southern tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National Science Foundation. The station is the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting up to 1,258 residents,[1] and serves as the United States Antarctic science facility. All personnel and cargo going to or coming from Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station first pass through McMurdo.

Nuclear power 1962-1972

On March 3, 1962, operators activated a nuclear power plant at the station. The plant, like nearby Scott's Discovery Hut, was prefabricated in modules. Engineers designed the components to weigh no more than 30,000 pounds (13,608kg) each and to measure no more than 8ft 8inches by 8ft 8inches by thirty feet. A single core no larger than an oil drum served as the heart of the nuclear reactor. These size and weight restrictions were intended to allow the reactor to be delivered in an LC-130 Hercules aircraft. However, the components were actually delivered by vessel.[4] The reactor generated 1.8 MW of electrical power[5] and reportedly replaced the need for 1,500 US gallons (5,700L) of oil daily.[6] Engineers applied the reactor's power, for instance, in producing steam for the salt water distillation plant. As a result of continuing safety issues, the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power Program decommissioned the plant in 1972. After the nuclear power station was no longer operational, conventional diesel generators were used. There were a number of 500kW diesel generators located in a central powerhouse providing electric power. A conventionally fueled water desalination plant provided fresh water.

(REF: [link removed by ])

PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant
McMurdo Station, Antarctica History and Philatelic Documentation
Including new concerns raised about radiation

As many of the polar philatelists reading this page will already know, there was extensive involvement of the U.S. Navy in Antarctic regions since 1955, as preparations were made for the International Geophysical Year (IGY). The Department of Defense was delegated the responsibility for logistic support of Antarctic operations, and the maintenance of scientific research stations located in Antarctica was assigned to the Department of the Navy.

The nuclear power plant that was at McMurdo Station was called PM-3A. That designation stood for "Portable, Medium output", and it was the third of its general type, and the first of that type to be designated for field use, hence the A in the designator.

It was authorized and funded by Congress in August of 1960, and first went "critical" in March 1962. It was manned and operated by U.S. Navy personnel under the direction of the Martin company and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) until May 1964. At that time, the Navy assumed the full responsibility for its operation and continued to be in charge until the plant was closed in September 1972 and decommissioning actions were completed.

Eighteen months is a phenomenally short time in which to design and construct a nuclear plant anywhere, much less in the harsh and demanding environment of the Antarctic. However, the idea of utilizing nuclear power in support of Operation DEEP FREEZE in Antarctica was actually not a new one. The idea had actually been conceived as early as 1955, when a study concluded that utilization of nuclear power there was not only feasible but highly desirable.

The reason the plant closed was primarily an economic one. A shield water seepage into insulation around the reactor pressure vessel and primary coolant piping made chloride stress corrosion cracking of the surfaces of the pressure vessel a possibility. The high cost of performing a full inspection resulted in the decision to permanently terminate PM-3A operations.

For the historians in the bunch, a table showing OIC's as I have them listed, based on cover signings and upon information received from former naval personnel who were part of the unit or had direct knowledge of the staff assigned. Updated September 2009.

There has been some discussion in the mailing list as to when the last actual personnel departed Nukey Poo. One other clue might be that Captain Henry Church, Master of the USNS Maumee, T-AO 149, posted philatelic covers from his vessel, from 17038 Branch for Operation Deep Freeze 1976, using the PM-3A penguin cachet and some 1-line markings from that vessel. I have not seen any further marking or cachets from 1976 forward, so I think that marked the end as far as philatelic documentation went. Beginning during Operation Deep Freeze '73, the unit was being dismantled/decommissioned, and it appears it was finally decommissioned in 1980. There could have been private mail of course (non-philatelic), but no more cacheted mail, to my knowledge.

If you have better information about the decommissioning, please e-mail me. I have recently received some very helpful information from a former plant superintendent at PM-3A, and I have posted some additional data at the Polar Philately Yahoo Group for those that have more interest. Look under the files section, for a Word 2000 document entitled "PM-3A". You have to be a member of the Yahoo group to access the data. If you are not a member and would like the document for research, or for your personal records, please e-mail me.

Special thanks to CWO3 Jon Wylie, CEC, USN, Ret., Bill Bushall, Lee Larson, HMCS, USN, Ret., Arthur Tate and MSG Ronald E. Violette, USA, Ret., for their contributions to my PM-3A information and research. Some background information about PM-3A came from the U.S. Navy publication entitled "History of the PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant McMurdo Station, Antarctica", publication Number NEESA 6-001, published by the Naval Energy and Environmental Support Activity, Port Hueneme, CA 93043. (Public Domain document).

(REF: [link removed by ])

The accepted payments are: PAYPAL and please contact seller for other methods of accepted payment, which you may have used in past please contact me through the messaging system.



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Antarctica PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant Op Deep Freeze DF 65 Navy Patch / Seabees picture

Antarctica PM-3A Nuclear Power Plant Op Deep Freeze DF 65 Navy Patch / Seabees


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