USCG Cutter Polar Star on Verge of World Record

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star
U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star
The edge of the ice shelf in the southernmost navigable water from the crow’s nest of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10), Feb. 17, 2022. Polar Star came 500 yards from the ice shelf. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diolanda Caballero.

Crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star are working with Guinness World Records to become the new official record holders of being able to reach the planet’s southernmost navigable waters.

While traveling the Bay of Whales in February, the Seattle-based cutter surpassed USCG cutter Polar Sea’s 1997 Guinness World Record, reaching “a position of 78 degrees, 44 minutes, 1.32 seconds south latitude at 12:55 p.m. (Feb. 17) New Zealand time, holding a distance of approximately 500 yards from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf,” according to the agency.

Polar Star traveled in waters that used to be charted as part of the ice shelf; now parts of the Ross Ice Shelf deviate about 12 nautical miles from the positions shown on official charts, USCG said, adding that the cutter surveyed 396 nautical miles of the ice shelf for possible navigational use for the future.

“The crew of Polar Star is proud to follow in the footsteps of legendary Antarctic explorers,” said Capt. William Woityra, commanding officer of Polar Star. “Even today, more than a century later, we carry on that legacy of exploration, reaching new places, and expanding human understanding of our planet.”

Cutter Polar Sea previously held the world record in 1997 when it reached 78 degrees, 29 minutes south latitude, according to the USCG.

By Karen Robes Meeks