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Ship sails in ocean between ice floes.
Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek

Return to duty

Icebreaker Polar Star first U.S. Coast Guard ship to McMurdo since 2006-07

Suddenly, it was there. The U.S. Coast Guard External U.S. government site icebreaker Polar Star External U.S. government site, above, like it had so many times in the past, made a slow, steady circle around the sea ice in McMurdo Sound, widening an existing area of open water near McMurdo Station External U.S. government site. It hadn't taken long for the heavy ice breaker to reach the U.S. Antarctic Program's External U.S. government site largest research station through nine miles of sea ice on Jan. 16 – though it has been seven years since a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker has been fit for that duty. The Polar Star, a 399-foot Polar Class Icebreaker with a 140-person crew, recently completed a three-year, $90 million overhaul. Its return ends the reliance of the National Science Foundation External U.S. government site, which manages the USAP, on contracting with foreign icebreakers to help resupply McMurdo Station. The Polar Star is scheduled to remain in the region until Feb. 8 to escort a fuel tanker and cargo vessel to the station.