Antarctica HMNZS Endeavour II Task Force 43 Operation Deepfreeze Under the command of COMNAVSUPPFORANT Commander, Naval Support Forces, Antarctica.
HMNZS Endeavour II was an ex petrol carrier Patapsco class. Built by Cargill Inc. Savage, Minn., USA. Launched November 1944 and completed in June 1945. Commissioned as the USS Namakagon. Saw service until December 1957 when she was placed in reserve at San Francisco. In June 1962, Namakagon was lent to NZ. She went into refit and was strengthened for service in ice. Commissioned into the RNZN in October 1962 as HMNZS Endeavour.
Endeavour served as Antarctic support ship until the end of the 1970/71 season and returned to the US in June 1971. Re-commissioned as the USS Namakagon, before transferring to the Taiwanese Navy as Lung Chuan.
Displacement: 1850 tons (4335 tons full load). Length overall 310ft 10in, beam 48ft 8in, mean draught 15ft 8in.
Performance: 14 knots.
Machinery: GM diesel electric, 3300bhp, 2 shafts
Up until about 1967, RNZN Ships were painted "Baby Blue" this enabled them to blend in with the south pacific seas. Endeavour was painted this colour , but after the 1966/1967 antarctic season, she was painted a US Navy Grey. The US Navy had complained that the original colour blended in too well with the ice, etc and we couldnt be seen. So, before the 1967/68 season, she changed her paint job to the US Navy grey as it was a lot darker and could be discerned amongst the ice. Her pennant number also changed from midships to the bow. About that time, RNZN ships changed to the RN grey. Also prior to the 1967/68 season, the Ice-breakers were transferred to the US Coast Guard.
On average, an Antarctica Season for Endeavour II would take about three months. This included two trips, returning to New Zealand between trips for re-supplying taking on diesel fuel, aviation fuel and dry stores.
The 1966/67 season started off too early - departing Auckland late November 1966. On reaching McMurdo Sound, the ice pack was still too thick. Fortunately, three USN Ice-breakers had preceded us and had made a rough channel. At the rendezvous point at the outward end of the channel, the three ice-breakers waited for us. Whilst we gingerly edged our focsle into the wedge of the quarterdeck of the larger ice-breaker,USS Glacier, the two, slightly smaller vessels went ahead and broke up a wide channel. Once we were physically secured into the "crotch-towing" position with Glacier, the operation commenced. USS Glacier physically towed us into Winter Quarters Bay, where we commenced to unload fuel and supplies for the USN and Scott Base.
On our return from one trip, we encountered a large hunk of ice, which ripped a large chunk out of one of the ships propellers. We were unable to move forward. One of the ice-breakers was dispatched to our assistance, and we were towed to Port Chalmers, Dunedin a long trip!
The 1967/68 season started later Endeavour departed Auckland 23 December 1967 after having loaded the bulk of the cargo for Scott Base. We arrived in Lyttelton 29 December to take on aviation fuel and the remainder of the Scott Base cargo. From this point on, we have a much detailed diary of events as four of us decided to start up a paper "The Endeavour Times". For the first trip, we put out a daily edition, but due to the lack of stationery, the paper was only done every second day on the second trip. We had a crew of about 60, plus scientists, sea cadets and reservists approximately 85 in all. All contributed to the paper and we have been able to keep a historic document, detailing the events of the 1967/68 season.Submitted by Jim Dell Warrant Officer (Communications) Royal New Zealand Navy Retired
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