National Science Foundation News

15 Apr 2020

USCG Polar Security Cutters: The History and Future

Credit: Halter Marine and Technology Associates, Inc.

The good news is that work has commenced on the first new heavy polar icebreaker for the United States Coast Guard in 43 years. The bad news is that when it enters service, projected to occur in FY2024, it will be the first new heavy polar icebreaker for the USCG in 47 years. Meanwhile, Russia has approximately 30 active polar icebreakers, including four that are nuclear powered. Arktika, the first of a new class of three heavy polar icebreakers, has commenced sea trials in the Gulf of Finland, with the other two under construction.

23 Jan 2020

US Icebreaker Polar Star Reaches Antarctica

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star breaks ice Jan. 16, 2020, near the ice pier of McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (U.S. Coast Guard photo NyxoLyno Cangemi)

The U.S. Coast Guard's sole heavy icebreaker arrived January 22 at McMurdo Station, following a 58-day transit from the United States. Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) departed its’ homeport of Seattle on November 26.This year marks the Polar Star’s 23rd journey to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, an annual joint military service mission to resupply the United States Antarctic stations, in support of the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program.The 399-foot…

14 Nov 2019

USCG PSC Equals meaningful Polar Presence

An emperor penguin poses for a photo in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. The crew of the Seattle-based Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2018, the U.S. military’s contribution to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen.

The Coast Guard needs a ship that can do more than just break ice; it needs a multi-mission ship to provide for the nation’s security, asserting its sovereign rights, and protecting its long-term economic interests. That ship is the Polar Security Cutter.Since Russia cashed the check in 1867 for the purchase of Alaska the U.S. has been an Arctic nation. Today, it is one of eight countries that have territorial land or seas above the Arctic Circle or in the polar region (six of those countries have Arctic Ocean coastline or an exclusive economic zone above the Arctic Circle). The U.S.

15 Oct 2019

Interview: Dr. Catherine Warner, Director, NATO CMRE

Dr. Catherine Warner, Director, NATO CMRE. Photo: CMRE

At CMRE, it’s not just about the science. It’s about building trust and confidence in resilient systems. An interview with Dr. Catherine Warner, Director, NATO Center for Maritime Research and Experimentation, La Spezia, ItalyTell us a little about yourself and CMRE. What does CMRE do, and how do you see your mission evolving?I came here from the Pentagon, where I was the science advisor for the director of operational test and evaluation. My experience has been working with operators on systems that they’re getting ready to field.

10 Oct 2019

Study: Sunlight Degrades Polystyrene Faster than Expected

Polystyrene pollution at the tide’s edge. Photo by Jayne Doucette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A study published by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that polystyrene, one of the world’s most ubiquitous plastics, may degrade in decades or centuries when exposed to sunlight, rather than thousands of years as previously thought. The study published October 10, 2019, in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.“Right now, policy makers generally assume that polystyrene lasts forever in the environment,” says Collin Ward, a marine chemist at WHOI and lead author of the study. “That’s part of justification for writing policy that bans it.

21 Apr 2019

Gulf Island to Build OSU Vessel

Image: Oregon State University

American manufacturer of specialized structures and marine vessels used in the energy sector Gulf Island Fabrication announced that it received an award for the construction of a third Regional Class Research Vessel for Oregon State University (OSU).The fabricator of marine vessels, this represents OSU’s execution of its third option for Gulf Island’s construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels. All three vessels will be built in the Company’s shipyard in Houma, Louisiana.

01 Mar 2019

Fire Breaks out on USCG's Polar Star

Image Courtesy US Coast Guard

It seems the U.S. cannot do enough to fast-track the construction of its new icebreaking fleet, as the USCG announce last night that the 150-member crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star fought a fire at approximately 9 p.m. PST Feb. 10 that broke out in the ship's incinerator room about 650 miles north of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.After initial response efforts using four fire extinguishers failed, fire crews spent almost two hours extinguishing the fire. Fire damage was contained inside the incinerator housing…

22 Jan 2019

Coast Guard's Only Heavy Icebreaker Arrives at Antarctica

Photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen 
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

The 150 crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star arrived Thursday in Antarctica along with a resupply vessel during Operation Deep Freeze – a joint military service mission to resupply U.S. interests in Antarctica.Homeported in Seattle, the 42-year-old Coast Guard cutter is the United States’ only operational heavy icebreaker, and the crew is making their sixth deployment in as many years to directly support the resupply of McMurdo Station – the United States’ main…

04 Dec 2018

Interview: Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant, United States Coast Guard

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz visits with Coast Guard crews stationed in
New York City. U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 1st Class Jetta Disco.

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was offered the opportunity to interview Admiral Karl Schultz, the 26th Commandant in the history of the United States Coast Guard, in his office in Washington, DC. Just five months into his tenure, his plate is predictably full with a number of challenges, including: Attracting and retaining future U.S. Coast Guard personnel; addressing a number of assymetric threats, including cyber attacks; and ensuring captial and operating budgets are adequate to safely and efficiently carry out a global mission envelope, to name but a few.

03 Dec 2018

Coast Guard Icebreaker Completes 129-day Arctic Deployment

The USCG Icebreaker Healy  (CREDIT NyxoLyno Cangemi USCG)

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy returned home Friday to their homeport in Seattle following a four-month deployment in the Arctic. In addition to providing presence and access in the Arctic during the 129-day summer deployment, the Healy crew completed three research missions in partnership with the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of Naval Research, conducting physical and biological research in the Arctic Ocean.

08 Nov 2018

Construction Starts on OSU's Research Ship

Photo: Oregon State University

Construction of a new Oregon State University (OSU) bound research ship that will advance the science of coastal environments, and support research on topics such as ocean acidification, hypoxia, and sea level rise, officially began today at Gulf Island Shipyards in Louisiana.Officials from OSU the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Gulf Island Shipyards LLC gathered at the shipyard in Houma, La. for the keel-laying ceremony, marking the start of fabrication of the state-of-the art ship.

03 Oct 2018

ABS North American Committee Look Ahead to 2030

Photo: ABS

Industry leaders from across North America met to discuss global challenges facing the maritime sector at the annual ABS North American Regional Committee.The group heard strategies to meet the IMO’s 2020 Sulfur Cap, as well as a look ahead to 2030 when vessel data will play a significant role in compliance management.“Thanks to our deep links with industry across North America, ABS continues to leverage technology to develop new ways of supporting our partners and members. As the leading classification organization in North America…

03 May 2018

US Navy-owned Research Vessel Back in Action

RV Thomas G. Thompson (Photo: University of Washington)

Research vessel (R/V) Thomas G. Thompson (AGOR-23) has gained a new lease on life following a recently completed 18-month upgrade to improve operating systems, bolster its research capabilities and extend its working life for the U.S. Navy and scientific organizations.The Navy-owned vessel has been operated and maintained University of Washington since 1991, under a charter lease agreement with the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-which manages the ship on behalf of the service.The $52 million refit…

24 Apr 2018

PDI to Supply Centerboard for OSU's New Research Vessel

Photo: Power Dynamics Innovations LLC

Power Dynamics Innovations LLC (PDI) said it has been subcontracted by Gulf Island Shipyards LLC, to design, engineer, construct, install and test the centerboard system for Oregon State University (OSU)'s new Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV).Gulf Island Shipyards is building the vessel under a contract from OSU, with an option for two additional vessels. OSU has engaged with naval architecture and engineering firm Glosten to lead the design contract of the next class of…

19 Mar 2018

The US Government Must Fund Icebreakers Now

Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star cuts through Antarctic ice in the Ross Sea in January 2017 (U.S. Coast Guard photo by David Mosley)

Congress last funded the purchase of polar icebreakers for the U.S. Coast Guard in the early 1970s. The USCCG Polar Star (WAGB-10) was commissioned in 1976, followed by the USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB-11) in 1977. Polar Sea has been out of service since 2010 due to a major engine failure. Polar Star was ‘in commission, special’ status from 2008 through 2012 while undergoing a service life extension. It is currently the only active heavy polar icebreaker in the U.S. fleet. The less capable USCGC Healy (WAGB-20) is a medium icebreaker and is equipped to support research missions in polar waters.

15 Feb 2018

Vigor Adds $20 Mln Drydock

(Photo: Vigor)

Vigor built on its ongoing investments in critical infrastructure in the Puget Sound in 2017 with the $20 million investment in another drydock. At 640 ft. long with a clear width of 116 ft., the new dock will be the third, and largest, at Vigor’s Harbor Island shipyard. The drydock is expected to be operational in early first quarter 2018 and is part of Vigor’s ongoing commitment to make Harbor Island a primary destination for ship repair and conversion on the West Coast for both commercial and government customers.

07 Feb 2018

US Icebreaker Suffers Flooding, Engine Failure in Antarctic

Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star breaks ice in McMurdo Sound near Antarctica (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Nick Ameen)

America’s aging, sole remaining heavy icebreaker suffered several engineering challenges, including flooding and engine failure, on its way to completing a recent mission in the Antarctic, highlighting the U.S.’ need for new polar icebreakers. The 1970s-era U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star is called upon each year to aid the delivery of fuel and supplies for National Science Foundation research stations in Antarctica, carving a navigable path through the Ross Sea where seasonal and multi-year ice is sometimes as much as 10 feet thick.

26 Jan 2018

New Virus Found in the Ocean

Electron microscope images of marine bacteria infected with the non-tailed viruses studied in this research. The bacterial cell walls are seen as long double lines, and the viruses are the small round objects with dark centers. (Courtesy of researchers)

Researchers from MIT and Albert Einstein College of Medicine have discovered a new type of virus that dominates water samples taken from the ocean but has long escaped analysis because its characteristics are not detected by standard tests. The newly identified viruses have long been missed by previous studies due several unusual properties including a lack of “tail” found on most catalogued and sequenced bacterial viruses. This research, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Ocean Ventures Fund…

16 Oct 2017

Rapp Marine to Equip New OSU Research Vessel

Rapp Marine said it has been selected by Gulf Island Shipyard, LLC, as the Overboard Handling System Single Source Vendor (OHS SSV) for Oregon State University’s (OSU) 193 ft x 41 ft multi-mission Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV), with the option of two additional vessels. Funding for the RCRV project is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the contract design of the RCRV was developed by Glosten. The first vessel is currently under construction at Gulf Island Shipyard in Houma, La.

13 Sep 2017

US Navy Buoys into the Arctic Ocean

An Air-Deployable Expendable Ice Buoy is deployed in the high Arctic near the North Pole from a Royal Danish Air Force C-130 aircraft operating out of Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, as part of the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP). Photo: United States Navy

The U.S National Ice Center (USNIC) in coordination with the Office of Naval Research, Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, the Danish Joint Arctic Command, Environmental and Climate Change Canada and University of Washington deployed buoys into the Arctic Ocean during a joint mission. The joint mission was conducted to collect weather and oceanographic data to enhance forecasting and environmental models thereby reducing operational risk for assets in the Arctic. "Polar lows…

19 Jan 2017

Polar Star Arrives at McMurdo Station, Antarctica

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star operates near two seals off the shore of Antarctica, Jan. 16, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star arrived at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station Tuesday after cutting a resupply channel through more than 60 miles of Antarctic ice in the Ross Sea. By carving a navigable path through seasonal and multi-year ice, the Polar Star assists in the annual delivery of operating supplies and fuel for two of NSF's three U.S. research stations in Antarctica. The Polar Star is America’s only operational heavy icebreaker that is capable of conducting the Antarctic resupply mission.

22 Nov 2016

America Needs Icebreakers

USCGC Polar Star (Photo: USCG)

Russia has more polar icebreakers than the rest of the world combined. America has one polar icebreaker and that one is well past its prime. There has been talk of sharing icebreakers. Sharing may work with allies, who are generally on the same page. Sharing will not work with Russia, which views the world as a zero-sum game. In June 2016, Russia announced the launching of Arktika, the world’s largest polar icebreaker. With a full load displacement of 33,540 tons, a length of 173.3 meters and a breadth of 34 meters, it will be capable of breaking ice up to 2.9 meters.

30 Aug 2016

MN100: Glosten

John A. Springer III, PE (Photo: Glosten)

Glosten is an employee-owned full-service consulting firm of naval architects, marine engineers, electrical engineers, and ocean engineers. Founded in 1958, the firm specializes in commercial and public sector vessels including research vessels, passenger/car ferries, tugs, barges, dredges, and special purpose platforms. Consulting and design services include hull, structural, mechanical, and electrical systems design. Glosten has a staff of 77 associates, including 36 professionally licensed engineers, supported by other engineers, marine designers, and production staff.

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