Polar Star frees fishing vessel trapped in ice

The disabled fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain is towed astern of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star through sea ice near Antarctica The disabled fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain is towed astern of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star through sea ice near Antarctica U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener

FEBRUARY 15, 2015—On Friday evening, February 14, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Polar Star freed the Australian-flagged fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain from ice some 900 miles northwest of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, and took the vessel into tow, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

As we reported earlier when the Polar Star arrived on the scene, the 207-foot fishing vessel was surrounded by 12 to 15 feet thick ice covered with two feet of snow. Towing in ice is much more hazardous than towing in open water and is a slow process. The Polar Star can break ice up to 21 feet thick by back and ramming, and can steam through ice 6 feet thick at 3 knots.

While the fishing vessel is free of the ice, the crews of Polar Star and Antarctic Chieftain must remain vigilant and ready to respond to changing ice conditions. Upon reaching a small area of open water, also known as a polynya, the Antarctic Chieftain will commence testing the vessel’s ability to steam under its own power. Once testing is complete, Polar Star and the Antarctic Chieftain will proceed north through another 60 miles of ice.

RCC New Zealand requested U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, homeported in Seattle, to respond to the Antarctic Chieftain’s request for assistance. The 150-person crew of Polar Star was deployed to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, as part of Operation Deep Freeze, which provides military logistical support to the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) The National Science Foundation manages the USAP.

The Polar Star is the only U.S. heavy icebreaker capable of operating in the thick An



Maritime New Zealand manages RCC New Zealand, which is responsible for all major maritime and aviation search and rescue missions within New Zealand’s search and rescue region. Maritime New Zealand is responsible for the coordination of search and rescue, maritime environmental protection, maritime transportation and numerous other maritime missions in New Zealand.tarctic ice for a mission such as breaking out the Antarctic Chieftain or clearing McMurdo Sound for the annual resupply of McMurdo Station. The 399-foot cutter is one of the largest ships in the Coast Guard and one of the world's most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers.

Pacific Area is the Coast Guard’s regional command element and force provider for maritime safety, security, and stewardship in the Pacific. The Coast Guard’s Pacific Area encompasses six of the seven continents, 71 countries, and more than 74 million square miles of ocean—from the U.S. Western States to Asia, and from the Arctic to Antarctica.



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