R/V Polar Duke Farewell Tribute
in the Laboratory for Microbial Oceanography


Memories of the Infamous 1990 Texas Outlaw-Viking Raid on Palmer Station
by John B. Anderson
Rice University

I think that the most memorable experience I have from Polar Duke is
the end of our 1990 cruise to the Ross Sea.  This was the first time
Polar Duke had ventured far from the Peninsula area and the cruise was
a great scientific success.  The seismic data acquired during that
cruise was used to reconstruct the glacial history of the region and
provided a strong basis for arguing that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet
first grounded on the Ross Sea continental shelf in the early-middle
Miocene.

The return trip from Ross Sea to Palmer was a rough one.  A large front
followed us all the way back, making life onboard the Duke most
unpleasant.  But at long last, we reached the inland passage and began
to pick things up off the deck that had been allowed to stay there
while the ship constantly rolled.  A few hours out of Palmer we
contacted the station to let them know that we would be arriving in the
early evening and that we were looking forward to a good meal on dry
land.  We were promptly informed by the station manager that the folks
in Palmer were having a private dinner that evening, sort of a going
away party or prom or something like that, and we were not welcome.
Well screw them we all decided, we will have a Bar BQ.  You see the
Norwegians  had grown quite fond of our Texas-style Bar B Q's and we
were all committed to showing the folks in Palmer how to have a good
time.  The stations manager did agree to let us come up and raid their
food stores; we were virtually out of food, so some of us went ashore
and raided their supplies while other folks fired up the Barby, iced
down some brews, and got things set up for the party.  It was a
wonderful afternoon and we decided to have the event on the back deck
were all of the Palmerites would be able to observe the event.

While raiding the galley our luck suddenly took a turn, we discovered a
case of French Champagne hidden beneath a tarp.  We took the Champagne
out and hid it under the hot tub, the site of the planned finale of the
evening's events.  The BarBQ was a great success, enjoyed by all
carnivores onboard.  The Palmerites were observed on several occasions
viewing out the windows with envy, but none of them swallowed their
pride over the tasty BarBQ and joined us.

As the night grew later we moved the event to the hot tub where the
champagne and tub had attained their ideal temperatures.  There were 24
of us in all, which I think maximized the limits of the tub, but not a
soul complained as the champagne bottles were passed around the tub.
Eventually the champagne was gone and we began sending Carol Raymond
out on raids.  I was never really sure where she went but she came back
each time with a fresh supply of wine.  It was about this time that the
Norwegians fell behind in their capacity to drink as much as Texans,
the Captain (best not mention names here) would submerge from time to
time and had to be pulled from the abyss of the hot tub.

It must have been about 1 o'clock in the morning when the station
manager appeared for the first time to ask us to abandon the tub.  "Be
gone with you" we all shouted "or we'll keel haul ya."  On one occasion
the station manager informed us that the some of the Palmerites would
be departing in the early morning and they needed sleep, at which point
we raised the captain's head from the murky abyss and responded "we
leave when he is ready."  Eventually the hot tub party did end and all
retired to the Duke for a few hours sleep before our morning
departure.

The trip from Palmer up to King George Island was one of the most
spectacular days I can remember in Antarctica.  The seas were glassy
calm, there were no clouds and wild life was all around us as we
steamed up the inland passage listening to one of my Leon Redbone tapes
and trying to piece together the events of the previous evening.  The
Palmerites remained somewhat unsociable.  It was a rare event for us to
get to fly out of King George Island rather than ride back to PA on the
Duke, but no one complained.  Seems as though the reason for our good
fortune was the Peter Wilkness was flying down to King George with some
VIP's to take a tour of the Duke and Palmer Station.  When Peter
arrived at Palmer the first thing he wanted to do was toast the VIP's
with some of that French champagne.  Needless to say the station
manager took great pleasure in telling him that it was John Anderson
and his band of Texas desperadoes and Viking pals who drank the
champagne and otherwise terrorized the station the night before.  The
bottles were apparently still lying scattered around the hot tub, along
with various articles of clothing, but I can proudly say that none of
our people were left there that night, even those for whom it seemed
nothing could be done but deliver their last rights.

Peter Wilkness never forgave me for that act.  Thank God he left OPP,
otherwise I might never have been funded again.  I think that the
station manager quit or was fired.  Someone had to be held accountable
for the events of the evening.  As for me and my Viking buddies, we
came back to Palmer the next year to find the hot tub empty and a huge
padlock on the liquor stores and galley.  So we took leave of the
Palmerites immediately, sailed up to Maxwell Bay to the Copacabana
where we invited Wayne and Susan T. and their assistants out to the
ship for the first Texas BarBQ-Line Dance ever held in Antarctica, but
that is another story.