The 321 Module

[text from the Antarctic Journal (NSF), March/June 1987--
the article was titled "Mini-station' tested at D-59 camp"]
the 321 module at Williams Field
The module being checked out at Williams Field in November 1986 prior
to its deployment at the 321 recovery site (photo from Jim Mathews).

Most USAP temporary camps are centered around Jamesway buildings, because these buildings are easily assembled and can be transported by LC-130. A Jamesway, a 16-foot-by-16-foot (5-meter-by-5-meter), frame-type tent that is insulated, is constructed from components (4-foot- by-8-foot (1.2-meter-by-2.4-meter) floor sections, roof arches, insulating blanket skins, end sections, vestibules, and other parts). These sections are joined to form longer buildings.

The camp at D-59 provided the excavation crew with the opportunity to design and test an air-transportable "mini-station" for shelter and support at remote, temporary camps. The design parameters were straightforward. The module, fully equipped and assembled, would have to fit on board an LC-130 and be strong enough to withstand a possible 240 kilometer overland traverse. After reaching the site, the unit would have to provide power, heat, and water immediately. Although the module would be a prototype, it would have to be reliable-it would have to start the first time and continue to provide service throughout the season.

During planning, they realized that with a single generator, housed in the module, they could consolidate the effort to supply power for the entire camp, as well as provide many amenities not usually found at temporary camps. Types of generator sets and other appliances required for the module were investigated. Besides items that might not be available at McMurdo, they selected a 20-kilowatt, marine-rated generator set as the most likely one to meet their needs. After all preliminary work was completed, project engineer George Cameron began designing the module.

The D-59 camp was comprised of the 30-foot (9.5-meter), prototype module and a 36-foot (11-meter) Jamesway, which was used as sleeping quarters for the crew. Although a roughly designed prototype, the module contributed to the success of the project by providing consistent, reliable service throughout the season. The "mini-station" design included such features as flush plumbing, hot showers, a washer, a dryer, and cooking appliances. The availability of these amenities improved the health and productivity of the crew, which was working 7 days per week and 10 to 12 hours each day. Additionally, the module design included an electrical plug-in system for the tractors. Consequently, the crew could shut down the equipment at night and easily start them in the morning. This feature improved significantly the continued performance of vehicles and reduced the chance that the vehicles would break down.