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Photos: U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Reaches Antarctica’s McMurdo Station

The heavy ice breaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 10) breaks ice approaching McMurdo Station, Antarctica, January 25, 2023. U.S. Navy Photo

Photos: U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Reaches Antarctica’s McMurdo Station

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3981
January 27, 2023

The U.S. Coast Guard’s heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 10) arrived in Antarctica this week as part of its annual resupply mission to McMurdo Station, the U.S. Antarctic Program’s logistical hub and largest station on the frozen continent.

The heavy ice breaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 10) moves the ice pier at McMurdo Station, Antarctica so the U.S. Army 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) can build a modular causeway system for offloading cargo from resupply ships. U.S. Navy Photo/JStratchko/Released)

Operation Deep Freeze is a joint military service mission to resupply U.S. National Science Foundation research stations in Antarctica.

This year’s mission marks Polar Star’s 26th voyage to the frozen continent, where it is tasked with breaking a navigable channel through miles of ice to allow fuel and supply ships to reach McMurdo Station’s ice pier.

The heavy ice breaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 10) moves the ice pier at McMurdo Station, Antarctica so the U.S. Army 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) can build a modular causeway system for offloading cargo from resupply ships. U.S. Navy Photo

At 46-years-old, Polar Star is the United States’ only operational heavy icebreaker.

This year also marks the Polar Star’s second year returning to Antarctica after the 2021 operation was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The heavy ice breaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 10) moves the ice pier at McMurdo Station, Antarctica so the U.S. Army 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) can build a modular causeway system for offloading cargo from resupply ships. U.S. Navy Photo

Polar Star’s efforts are already starting to bear fruit. The icebreaker was joined by the Military Sealift Command-charted cargo ship Ocean Giant is carrying 443 pieces of cargo, which included containers filled with mechanical parts, vehicles, construction materials, office supplies and electronics equipment and vehicles.

The ship was loaded with a floating causeway that will be assembled in Antarctica and used for cargo offload operations instead of the traditional McMurdo Station ice-pier, which was deemed unusable for this year’s mission.

The heavy ice breaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 10) and Military Sealift Command-chartered cargo ship MV Ocean Giant pass in the channel at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, January 24, 2023. U.S. Navy Photo

This year a second MSC-chartered ship, Ocean Gladiator, will bring in 361 pieces of cargo, mostly construction materials to be used for an expansion project at the McMurdo facility.

Sailors from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB) 1 and NCHB-5 offload sections of modular causeway system from the Military Sealift Command-chartered cargo ship MV Ocean Giant to Soldiers from U.S. Army 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, January 27, 2023. U.S. Navy Photo
Sailors from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB) 1 and NCHB-5 offload sections of modular causeway system from the Military Sealift Command-chartered cargo ship MV Ocean Giant to Soldiers from U.S. Army 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, January 27, 2023. U.S. Navy Photo

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