Armed Forces News

A curious Adelie penguin stands near the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star on McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Jan. 7, 2016. During their visit to Antarctica for Deep Freeze 2016, the U.S. military's logistical support to the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program, the Polar Star crew encounters a variety of Antarctic marine life, including penguins, whales and seals. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst.

The Coast Guard cutter Polar Star left its homeport in Seattle Nov. 16, on its annual mission to cut a path through the ice channel that would allow supply ships to replenish The National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, the largest U.S. presence in the Antarctic. As the nation’s only large icebreaker, the aging Polar Star is the Coast Guard’s sole vessel capable of breaking through ice that can be 21 feet thick in places. This is the 26th such mission for the ship.

“It takes a special crew to ae the 20,000 nautical mile round trip through some of the most remote locations and arduous conditions on the planet to get the job done, and perhaps more significantly, to prepare this 46-year-old ship,” said Capt. Keith Ropella, Polar Star’s skipper. “I am overwhelmed and immensely proud of the tireless work this crew and our shore side support partners have done since returning from the last Operation Deep Freeze back in April to get us ready to go, and I am incredibly excited to make this once in a lifetime journey with them.”


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