With Mt. Baker in the background, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10) transits Puget Sound north of Seattle on Dec. 4, 2020, on its Arctic deployment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier

USCGC Polar Star Visits Dutch Harbor for First Time Since 2013

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3794
January 6, 2021

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:

Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) navigates heavy seas in the Gulf of Alaska Thursday, December 10, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) navigates heavy seas in the Gulf of Alaska Thursday, December 10, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
Captain Bill Woityra, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10), looks out from the cutter’s bridge Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 while underway in the Bering Strait. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10), transits the Chukchi Sea, in the Arctic, at noon Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from the Coast Guard Air Station in Kodiak, Alaska, prepare to hoist a person from the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) while underway in the Arctic Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) is underway in the Arctic Ocean, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) is underway in the Chukchi Sea, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, at about 10:30 a.m. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

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