Return to duty
Icebreaker Polar Star first U.S. Coast Guard ship to McMurdo since 2006-07
Posted January 17, 2014
Suddenly, it was there. The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star , 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 . It hadn't taken long for the heavy ice breaker to reach the U.S. Antarctic Program's 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 , 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.