Frequently Answered Questions


Who are you and what is this about?

I'm David Smith and this is my website documenting my travels to the North Pole and McMurdo Station, Antarctica.  You can read my mission statement, of sorts,  in the about section.

How did you end up there and why did you do it?

I got to the North Pole quite by accident.  The submarine that I served aboard was assigned to the Arctic for a few months.  The mission allowed us to take a quick jaunt to the Pole and the rest is history...

Antarctica was a different matter.  I had to apply for a job with Raytheon Polar Services.  Fortunately I was hired to work in the power plant at McMurdo Station.  Since I had operated a nuclear reactor and electric plant on my submarine, the thinking was that I was qualified to operate the electric plant here.  

But like my trip to the North Pole, it was a matter of timing.  I happened to have been caught up in the dotcom downturn and was laid off in February of 2001.  So, after spending a few months waiting for job leads to turn into nothing, I came across the RPS site and submitted my resume.  Three days later I was called and spoke with my future manager, Jordan, about working in the power plant.  I was essentially offered the job by the end of the phone call.

The why is another matter.  The simple answer was that since I had been to one end of the world, it would be a shame to not go to the other.  Other answers would center on the need for money, leaving behind the mundane, and trying to recapture the sense of adventure that I had when I was younger.

Where are you?

I am at McMurdo Station on the coast of the Ross Sea on the continent of Antarctica. 77.8 degrees South, 166 degrees East to be exact.

How long will you be there?

My position is contracted for a year, beginning in October 2001 and running through October of 2002.  So I will be here through the upcoming austral winter.

What does your family think of you going away for a year?

That's a good question.  My wife and I love each other very much and we stay in constant contact whether it be phone, web cam, or chatting.  She realized that it was important for me to come and gave her permission, although with some reservations.  But when my year on the Ice is done, we'll be enjoying a well deserved vacation in New Zealand and Australia.

My mother and sister are also very supportive.

How many people are there with you?

Currently there are about 1,200 people here.  During the winter there will only be about 200 souls here to keep the lights on, so to speak.

What do you do?

I work in the base's power plant to ensure that McMurdo is powered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  My job requires that I work 12 hours per day as well as remain on call in the event of a blackout.


This page is continually being updated.  If you have a question that you'd like to see answered, email me.


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