U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star Heads to Antarctica

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star. File photo via USCG.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star is on its way to Antarctica to support Operation Deep Freeze 2023, its 26th voyage to the continent.

Operation Deep Freeze is a joint mission to replenish the U.S. Antarctic stations of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Antarctic Program’s lead agency.

The crew, which left its homeport in Seattle on Nov. 16, made a four-day stop at Hobart, Australia, before leaving Dec. 21 across the Southern Ocean. In Hobart, crew members hosted guests from the Australian Antarctic Division, Australian Border Force, Tasmanian government officials and others, USCG said. 

“The reception was a good way for us to thank our Tasmanian hosts for their part in Polar Star’s mission success,” Capt. Keith Ropella, Polar Star’s commanding officer, said. “We are proud to work alongside all the other Antarctic programs and the continued success of Operation Deep Freeze is dependent on these invaluable international partnerships.”

The 399-foot vessel offers its heavy icebreaking capabilities to ensure “sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, and port cargo handling for three U.S. research stations in Antarctica with McMurdo Station being the largest,” the agency said.

By Karen Robes Meeks