USCG POLAR STAR (photo USCG)
|McMurdo Station From The Air, Photo USGS|
The U.S.Coast Guard ice breaker POLAR STAR which was recently called off of the rescue attempt of the Russian expedition cruse ship which was freed before the POLAR STAR arrived on scene has successfully completed part of her original mission of sup[porting resupply of the U.S. Antarctic Station at McMurdo Sound. The POLAR STARS is more than a decade past her retirement age and is one of only two polar class icebreakers actually in operations in the U.S. Coast Guard fleet. One other is considered still commissioned but appears to be used as a spare parts source for the Polar STAR.
The old POLAR STAR still can crunch serious ice, however.Our sources report that she successfully broke a navigable shipping lane through 12 miles of ice up to 10 feet thick to service McMurdo station. That's great, and our congratulations to the Captain and crew; but we have to ask how many seasons of such heavy use does the old girl still have in her? What are we doing about building up our ice breaking capability? We regret to report that at the moment the answers as close as we can determine are "not many", and "nothing". Don't ask us about the Bear or the Dragon in our own High Arctic.....sore subject.