Navy officer leads Antarctic expedition

Captain Rebecca Jeffcoat has commenced her job as station leader at Australia’s oldest Antarctic research outpost, Mawson Station.

CAPTION: Captain Rebecca Jeffcoat at Casey Research Station, Antarctica, during a previous posting. Story by Sergeant Matthew Bickerton.

Starting late last month, this is her second deployment to Antarctica. It is a civilian position which Captain Jeffcoat is filling as an inactive reservist.

“There are no polar bears, but the leopard seals are just as scary,” Captain Jeffcoat said.

Captain Jeffcoat and her team are on a 12-month posting, and will be isolated for up to eight months during the height of Antarctica’s winter.

“Living through blizzards is incredible. I love the sense of community and experiencing the extraordinary place and the wildlife with a like-minded group of expeditioners,” Captain Jeffcoat said.

“During my first winter stint, from October 2017 to November 2018, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves, and karaoke was one, but I won’t be quitting my day job.”

Mawson Station is one of Australia’s three permanent outposts in Antarctica and Captain Jeffcoat said the station, and the ongoing scientific programs conducted there, were valuable to the nation.

Captain Jeffcoat said re-supply, training and infrastructure maintenance would be her priorities before winter sets in.

An Alaskan-chartered icebreaker called the Aiviq ferried Captain Jeffcoat and her team to the icy continent.

Captain Jeffcoat has served in Navy for 30 years.

She likens her new job as station leader to previous leadership roles she has held in her career, which includes a stint as commanding officer of HMAS Kuttabul.

Captain Jeffcoat will be responsible for 14 other expeditioners in Antarctica, which is in contrast to the 5000 personnel who came under her command at Garden Island.

“The job’s very similar in Antarctica – just a lot less people, and a lot more isolated,” she said.





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