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The U.S. Coast Guard’s sole polar icebreaker, USCGC Polar Star, has arrived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska as part of its unusual Arctic deployment.
The logistics stop comes 30 days into its months-long deployment to the region to protect the United States interests in the Bering and Chukchi Seas, including along the Maritime Boundary Line between the United States and Russia.
The Polar Star crew has also engaged in various scientific research initiatives such as the deployment of four ice buoys in support of a scientific partnership with the University of Washington and Office of Naval Research. In support of National Science Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Polar Star crew launched multiple sensors to examine Arctic waters, a region from which little scientific data exists.
During the mission’s first leg, Polar Star traversed a historic winter latitude, reaching 72° 11′ N on December 25.
The last time the nation’s sole heavy icebreaker visited Dutch Harbor was in July of 2013 during ice trails following the unit’s re-activation. The USCGC Polar Star typically participates in Operation Deep Freeze, the annual resupply mission to McMurdo Station in Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation. This year’s mission was cancelled due to COVID safety precautions, and only a limited resupply will be conducted via aircraft.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, while in Dutch Harbor the cutter’s crew is prohibited from leaving the vessel and nobody will allowed on or off.
After departing Dutch Harbor, the Polar Star crew will again transit north and continue to hone the crew’s icebreaking proficiency, conduct scientific research, and patrol to detect and deter illegal fishing by foreign vessels in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.
Below are some photos of the deployment so far:
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