SEATTLE (KOMO) — The U.S. Coast Guard's (USCG) only heavy-duty icebreaker in America's fleet departed Seattle's port Wednesday afternoon en route to Antarctica, according to the USCG.
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star and its crew journey to the southern continent annually in support of Operation Deep Freeze, USCG Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said.
The operation is a joint military service mission to resupply the U.S. Antarctic stations of the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program.
The Polar Star was commissioned in 1976 and was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding along with her now-decommissioned sister ship, Polar Sea, according to the USCG website.
The Polar Star is the United State's only ship capable of providing access to the Polar Regions. It is a 399-foot heavy polar icebreaker that weighs 13,500 tons.
The USCG said the ship is the most powerful in the entire fleet, with up to 75,000 horsepower from three aviation-grade gas turbine engines.
Each year, the USCG said, the Polar Star travels to McMurdo Station in Antarctica to break miles of ice up to 21 feet thick.
The trip to Antarctica is more than 25,000 miles and last year the ship spent 144 days deployed.