Free Condoms to U.S. Base in Antarctica

Staff at U.S. research base in Antarctica get 16,500 condoms before darkness.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 8:11 AM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, June 9, 2008 — -- One of the last shipments to a U.S. research base in Antarctica before the onset of winter darkness was a year's supply of condoms, a New Zealand newspaper reported on Monday.

Bill Henriksen, the manager of the McMurdo base station, said nearly 16,500 condoms were delivered last month and would be made available, free of charge, to staff throughout the year to avoid the potential embarrassment of having to buy them.

The base only has a skeleton staff through the long winter.

"Since everybody knows everyone, it becomes a little bit uncomfortable," Henriksen told the Southland Times newspaper.

About 125 scientists and staff are stationed at McMurdo base, the largest community in Antarctica, during the winter months when there is constant darkness.

The first sunrise will occur on August 20 and McMurdo's population will start to increase again in September when supply flights resume, peaking at more than 1,000 during the summer period.

(Reporting by Kazunori Takada, editing by Miral Fahmy)