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With the completion of the Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX), Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 302, a new chapter in Arctic scientific drilling exploration has begun. After many years of planning, a paleoceanographic drilling leg has been successfully completed in one of the most difficult environments on Earth—for the very first time.

When proposing the concept of a multiship operation to the central Arctic Ocean in early 1998, we were naïve about the long road ahead—one that turned out to be quite bumpy at times. Luckily, there was a tremendous amount of help around to assist in navigating this road. The continuous, constructive, and unfailing support provided by the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) and IODP scientific advisory communities throughout the many review cycles of the drilling proposal gave us the incentive to keep going.

Our co-proponents must be acknowledged for their major contribution in developing the proposed science and collecting seismic survey data. Larry Mayer worked with us from the very beginning. Martin Jakobsson produced a new view of the Arctic Ocean Basin with his revolutionary International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO). Wilfried Jokat and Yngve Kristoffersen provided the critical reflection seismic survey data. Bernard Coakley and Margo Edwards supplemented these data with higher-resolution surveys from Scientific Ice Expeditions (SCICEX). René Forsberg, Ruth Jackson, Evgeny Musatov, and Nikita Bogdanov provided scientific support and critiques that kept the proposal at its high ranking throughout the review process.

During the scientific planning phase, Ted Moore was always there with strong support and sage advice within the ODP/IODP advisory structures. And throughout the entire planning time, John Farrell was invaluable in making sure that we safely navigated through some major political roadblocks. He helped secure funds for the planning work that the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat (SPRS) subsequently carried out.

Planning the operations began in the very early days with informal, but critical, discussions with Harry Hogeboom and Marius Lengkeek. But it was the JOIDES Arctic Detailed Planning Group (Jan Backman, Kate Moran, Margo Edwards, Tim Francis, Michal Gelfgat, Martin Hovland, Tom Janecek, Wilfried Jokat, Anders Karlqvist, Heidimarie Kassens, Kozo Takahashi, Chris Wiley, David Rea, Alister Skinner, Gene Pollard, and Trevor Williams) who first framed the operation in some detail. This group passed their conceptual strategies to SPRS, specifically to Anders Karlqvist, who made the first firm commitment of funds and an institutional commitment to ACEX. With the able leadership from his logistics engineer Ulf Hedman, Anders fleshed out these plans that have now been completed with Expedition 302. It is no wonder he's called the Ulfinator—Ulf conducted or enabled the hard work to be completed each and every day from planning to the completion of the expedition. SPRS also provided top-notch logistics (led by Ulf), ice management (led by Arno Keinonen with a strong Russian and Canadian team), weather forecasting (Bertil Larsson), incredible information technology (led by Per Frejvall with a substantial sponsorship from Ericsson Response and Ingmar Pomlin), and, of course, fleet management (led by Anders Backman). Collectively, their work has set a very high standard for those who follow; thank you one and all.

Also, during the planning phase of ACEX, IODP's ECORD Managing Agency (EMA) did not even exist. Not only was EMA able to invent itself and bring together the European members in IODP during this time, but it also set up the ECORD Science Operator (ESO), led by the British Geological Survey (BGS), in very short order. BGS began to get ready even before any group was officially in place and led a strong group that includes the University of Bremen and the European Petrophysical Consortium (EPC) (University of Leicester, the Université de Montpellier 2, RWTH Aachen and Vnje Universiteit of Amsterdam). They took on Expedition 302 and made it happen during a very tumultuous time. There are many to thank in ESO—Alister Skinner, Dan Evans, Colin Brett, Brice Rea, Ursula Röhl, Tim Brewer, Heike Delius, Alex Wuelbers, Hans Wallrabe-Adams, Dave McInroy, Davie Baxter, Dave Wallis, Graham Tulloch, Luzie Schnieders, Colin Graham, Martin Kölling, Walter Hale, and Åsa Wallin.

Early on, it was clear that our biggest challenge would be maintaining location in heavy sea ice. We had always known that if this could be achieved, then we would be successful. The station-keeping was much more than we could have ever anticipated—we were able to stay on location in 9/10, multiyear ice. This is a landmark feat that will allow scientists to continue to explore this least known of our oceans through scientific ocean drilling for many years to come.

With Anders Backman and Anders Vikström leading the fleet, the three ships performed spectacularly. The Oden was not only a welcome, comfortable, and happy home for many of us during the expedition, but a very big thanks goes to Captain Tomas Årnell and his officers, engineers and crew who demonstrated the Oden's excellence as the last defense in protecting the Vidar Viking against the oncoming ice.

Captain Jørgen E. Haave and his officers did an outstanding job in maintaining station aboard the drillship Vidar Viking by keeping manual watch on the wheel, day after day.

And we had the best commuting system ever—we'll not soon forget our daily helicopter trips to and from the Vidar Viking—thanks to Sven Stenvall, Thomas Rönnqvist, and Jim Holmström.

Thanks also to Captain Stanislav Smith and his crew from the Sovetskiy Soyuz who provided the first attack on the large ice floes. This ship's great power and able crew also safely led us into and out of the ice pack in record time.

We cannot end without mentioning our Cornish drilling cohorts from Seacore Ltd. These are the folks who actually delivered the goods—the hard and soft core. Without exception, they (Tony Halliday, Danny Bennets, Shaun Curnow, Roy Mitchell, Julian Pearce, Allan Pope, Graeme Thomas, Pete Thornton, and Lynton Williams) worked tirelessly, with inventiveness, good humor, and grace.

Thank you also to Alain Kayo, of Schlumberger Wireline, for carrying out the Expedition 302 logging program.

Our science party was exemplary—you were "brave and calm" while patiently waiting for core. We can't really thank you completely yet, as our work has just begun with these initial Expedition Reports chapters. We look forward to completing this adventure by opening up new insights into the Arctic Ocean's past. Finally, we thank Meghan Paulson for translating the DIS core descriptions into barrel sheet form for this volume.