Seattle's Polar Star Heads to Antarctica to Aid Stranded Ships

Posted: January 7, 2014

By: Carol M. Ostrom [The Seattle Times]

She’s not the biggest ship around, but she’s the baddest of her kind, and now the Seattle-based Polar Star, the Coast Guard’s only active heavy-duty polar icebreaker, is heading to Antarctica to rescue two other icebreakers stuck in pack ice.

The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which helped evacuate 52 passengers from the trapped Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy last week, is now feared to be blocked by ice, as well.

The Polar Star, a 399-foot powerhouse whose engines can deliver 75,000 horsepower, recently completed a $90 million, three-year overhaul, according to the Coast Guard. With its specially designed hull, it can continuously break 6 feet of ice while moving at three knots, and break through a two-story wall of ice by backing up and ramming.

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