Coast Guard cutter Polar Star departed Coast Guard Base Seattle for Antarctica on Tuesday. The cutter is recently out of a three year, $90 million overhaul, which is part of the Coast Guard’s plan to reactivate the heavy icebreaker.
The 399′ Polar Star is tasked with resupplying the National Science Foundation Scientific Research Station in McMurdo. For more than 50 years, Coast Guard icebreaker crews have deployed to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze.
Polar Star will create a navigable shipping lane through the layers of ice in McMurdo Sound. Approximately 8 million gals. of U.S. fuel will be sent to McMurdo residents through the channel and be delivered to Winter Quarters Bay. This fuel allows the station to remain manned and ready during the freezing winter months.
This past summer, Polar Star conducted sea trials in the Arctic to test all of the ship’s equipment and train the crew prior to embarking to Antarctica this winter. During the summer trip, Polar Star spent weeks in the Beaufort Sea north of Barrow, Alaska, testing propulsion machinery, conducting emergency drills and qualifying crewmembers in individual watchstations.
In preparation for Polar Star’s Deep Freeze deployment, the crew overhauled many pieces of equipment from the bridge to the engine room and successfully completed a number of assessments to achieve their fully reactivated status.