USCG Cutter Polar Star Heads to Antarctica for Operation Deep Freeze

The Coast Guard cutter Polar Star. USCG photo.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star has embarked on its 27th year in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the Guard said Nov. 16.

The cutter has left its homeport of Seattle and headed to Antarctica for Deep Freeze, a yearly joint military effort to replenish the U.S. Antarctic stations supporting the National Science Foundation, which is the U.S. Antarctic Program’s lead agency.

Every year, the cutter crunches through ice to create a path that enables fuel and supply vessels to access McMurdo Station, the U.S. Antarctic Program’s logistical hub and the biggest Antarctic station.

“Operation Deep Freeze is a unique and important mission,” Capt. Keith Ropella, the cutter’s commanding officer, said. “This mission requires year-round effort from the crew to prepare this 47-year-old cutter for the 20,000 nautical mile round trip and extreme environmental conditions we will face.”

“We have an incredible and dedicated team; I couldn’t be more excited or more proud to make this journey with them,” Ropella said.

The cutter has completed the third of five phases of a service life extension project, a $15.6 million investment over a 132-day maintenance period, according to the Guard.

By Karen Robes Meeks