U.S. Icebreaker Polar Star: Explaining the Ship in Antarctic Rescue
Though past its expected life span, the overhauled 38-year-old cutter is still very powerful.
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star, perhaps the most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker in the world, is steaming toward Antarctica to bring a key missing element—power—to the rescue effort around the icebound Russian vessel M.V. Akademik Shokalskiy.
Amid all of the misfortunes that have plagued rescuers, there's at least one bit of good luck: The Polar Star happened to be in port in Sydney, Australia, this week on its first deployment since a $90-million overhaul.
With engines that can deliver 75,000 horsepower, the Polar Star has 25 times the punch of the Shokalskiy and 5.5 times the horsepower of the Chinese rescue ship Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, which is itself now trapped in thick, frozen ice along with the