By Karen Robes Meeks
After 58 days at sea, the US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star and its crew of 159 members made it to Antarctica to support Operation Deep Freeze. It represents the icebreaker’s 23rd journey to the region to support the National Science Foundation.
The 399-foot, 13,000-ton icebreaker – which arrived at McMurdo Station on Jan. 22 – left its Seattle, Wash., homeport on Nov. 26 to carve a 23-mile channel through the ice to McMurdo Sound. This opening allowed more than 19.5 million pounds of dry cargo and 7.6 million gallons of fuel to be offloaded from three logistic vessels, according to the USCG. The three ships combined hold enough fuel and vital supplies to keep NSF operations going in the area throughout the year until Polar Star’s 2021 return.
“I am immensely proud of all the hard work and dedication the men and women of the Polar Star demonstrate each and every day,” said Greg Stanclik, commanding officer of the Polar Star. “Maintaining and operating a 44-year-old ship in the harshest of environments takes months of planning and preparation, long workdays and missed holidays, birthdays and anniversaries with loved ones. The Polar Star crew truly embodies the ethos of the Antarctic explorers who came before us – courage, sacrifice and devotion.”