21 February 2006

USCGC Polar Star Arrives in Antarctica

For those of you that thought the Coast Guard never went beyond view of the shore line, USCG District 13 reports:
MCMURDO STATION, Antartica - The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star arrived in McMurdo Station, Antarctica Monday, after a non-stop 8,200 nautical mile transit from its homeport of Seattle.

Polar Star, a 399-foot polar class icebreaker with a 130-person crew, provided a relief channel and brief escort of U.S. Naval Ship Lawrence H. Gianella before mooring in McMurdo.

While on deployment, Polar Star will conduct icebreaking operations in McMurdo Sound and continue grooming a shipping channel previously opened by the Russian icebreaker Krasin. The channel ensures that vital cargo ships can deliver supplies to McMurdo Station, Antarctica's largest scientific and support community. Polar Star also acts as a floating research platform for scientists that travel onboard.

For the past 50 years, Coast Guard icebreakers have deployed to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, where ships have broken through as much as 84 nautical miles of ice to produce a navigable shipping channel into McMurdo Station. This vital shipping channel allows supply ships to deliver more than six million gallons of fuel and four thousand metric tons of cargo, enabling McMurdo Station and South Pole Station to remain manned and operational throughout the harsh winter months.

Polar Star, which was specifically designed for solo icebreaking in remote Polar Regions, turned 30 years old Jan. 17. The cutter's red reinforced hull is made of 1.75 inches of steel that covers a specially contoured icebreaking bow. The cutter can call on 75,000 shaft horsepower enabling it to break up to 21 feet of ice. Polar Star has deployed 15 times in support of Operation Deep Freeze.
Openly Posted at Blue Star Chronicles, Rhymes with Right, The Liberal Wrong Wing, The Mudville Gazette and Stuck on Stupid.

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