US Naval Antarctic Support Unit, Christchurch NZ, was a subordinate command reporting to Commander, Naval Support Force Antarctica as part of Operation DEEP FREEZE. Beginning with Admiral Byrd's flights in the 1930's and continuing in Operation HIGH JUMP in 1947, Navy aircrews flying to the continent operated out of Christchurch. In 1954, Admiral Dufek commanded DEEP FREEZE I, a largely military mission to develop capabilities for operating in Antarctica. Later, the National Science Foundation became the executive agent for the US Antarctic Program. Since the Navy retained most of the corporate knowledge for supporting Antarctic operations, it became natural for DEEP FREEZE to became a science support mission. At its zenith, Naval Support Force Antarctica had over 600 Sailors and its functions included communications, Seabees, Public Works, food service, billeting, stevedoring, fire and rescue, medical, dental, airfield services, MWR,, contracting, terminal operations, weather, PAO, legal, chaplain and command and control, to mention just a few. An entire Navy air squadron, Antarctic Development Squadron 6, or VXE6, flew fixed and rotary wing aircraft in support of the program. NASU Christchurch was the advance support base and consisted of office, storage and hangar space leased from Christchurch Airport, along with several legacy DEEP FREEZE buildings including barracks, a dining facility, and a chapel. The crew consisted of approximately 20 US Sailors and Soldiers, a US civil service contracting officer, about 40 New Zealand foreign service nationals, and an annual augment of about 30 Kiwi armed forces members for aircraft loading and cargo yard duties. It also included a USAF Air Mobility Command detachment to support channel flights and C-141 and C-5 flights to the ice, a US Army veterinary corps officer for theater food inspection, an NCIS agent, and a Navy calibration laboratory. The base also supported the New Zealand, Australian and Italian Antarctic programs. As commercial support services developed, more and more Antarctic functions were assumed by contractors, who were cheaper than Navy manpower. That, along with the fact that the Navy needed its manpower for its own requirements in a resource constrained defense budget, led to its eventual exit from the program. NASU Christchurch was disestablished in April 1998. CNSFA was disestablished later that year. VXE-6 flew in a reduced capacity until 1999, ultimately being replaced by the New York Air National Guard operating ski equipped LC-130's. This marked the end of the Navy's involvement in Operation DEEP FREEZE and its proud legacy in Antarctica.
The Meritorious Unit Commendation may be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself under combat or noncombat conditions by either valorous
... Moreor meritorious achievement which renders that unit outstanding compared to other units performing similar service, but not sufficient to justify the award of the Navy Unit Commendation. Hide
The National Defense Service Medal is awarded for honorable active service as a member of the Armed Forces during the Korean War, Vietnam War, the war against Iraq in the Persian Gulf, and for service
... More during the current War on Terrorism. In addition, all members of the National Guard and Reserve who were part of the Selected Reserve in good standing between August 2, 1990, to November 30, 1995, are eligible for the National Defense Service Medal. In the case of Navy personnel, Midshipment attending the Naval Academy during the qualifying periods are eligible for this award, and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Midshipmen ae only eligible if they participated in a summer cruise that was in an area which qualified for a campaign medal. Hide