The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea arrived in McMurdo after a 10,200 nautical mile transit from its home port in Seattle, Washington. Polar Sea made stops in Honolulu, Hawaii and Sydney, Australia during its voyage south.
The Polar Sea, a 399-ft. polar class icebreaker with a 150-person crew, is recently out of a two-year overhaul. The Polar Sea conducted sea trials in the Arctic this summer to test all the ship's equipment and train the crew prior to transiting to Antarctica to re-supply the McMurdo station for the National Science Foundation.
For the past 50 years, Coast Guard icebreakers have deployed to Antarctica in support of the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica 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. The POLAR SEA also acts as a floating research platform for scientists that travel onboard.
The Polar Sea, which was specifically designed for solo icebreaking in remote Polar Regions, turned 29 in January of this year. The cutter's red reinforced hull is made of 1.75 inches thick steel and has a specially contoured icebreaking bow. The cutter can produce up to 75,000 shaft horsepower enabling it to break ice up to 21 feet thick. The POLAR SEA has deployed 17 times in support of Operation Deep Freeze.