Recently we had the USCGC Polar Star in and around McMurdo Station, Antarctica. It is one of the largest icebreakers in the world, and I believe is the largest US icebreaker. I was told it can break ice up to 18 feet thick! It came down here to break up the Ross Sea ice so our fuel tanker and cargo ship could bring supplies. It was delayed slightly because it was sent out to rescue the ships stranded in the ice down here that were making a lot of headlines in the news. Once it broke out our ice we immediately started seeing a lot of wildlife appear. Pods of Minke whales, Orca (killer) whales, more seals and penguins, but still no snow yeti’s yet. Ha ha. We also started seeing some other ships in the sea near us… one belonged to an Australian billionaire, and other research and adventure cruise ships. When the icebreaker was done with it’s tasking we had the chance to tour the ship.
The USCGC Polar Star. One of the largest icebreakers in the world. USCGC stands for United States Coast Guard Cutter. Here the ship is docked at the floating ice pier at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Hut Point is in the background which is where Scott’s Discovery Hut is located. The week earlier the ship broke out the ice in the Ross Sea and the winds and currents quickly carried it out to sea. It was amazing how fast it all left. I was in the birds nest at the top of the ship!!
The engineering room of the USCGC Polar Star. This is where everything is monitored and controlled.
This is one of the turbine engines powering the ship. It’s really huge! I think there were three, along with several diesel/electric engines also. The picture is from behind a sealed door so it’s not very clear. When the ship is breaking ice, all of the engines are at max power and the whole ship makes lots of really loud noises. The engineer told me they could break ice up to 18 ft thick. Don’t quote me though.
This is the bridge of the ship. I am at the wheel yelling into the tube for the crew to swab the poop deck. : ) The special red bat phone there on the dash in front of me rang while I was at the wheel. It was probably the President calling. LOL
Me in the bird’s nest of the USCGC Polar Star icebreaker. To get here I had to climb up many ladders in a narrow tube. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do that while the ship is rolling on the sea. The top would sway much more than at lower places on the ship. This tower is used for spotting during ship operations. Behind me you can see our ice pier floating in the water next to the ship, and Hut Point in the background. I’m not sure if we were supposed to go up there. I heard our tour guide may have been in some hot water for letting a few of us climb up there. It was cool!
Looking up towards the “bird’s nest” from the top deck of the USCGC Polar Star icebreaker. When I took this picture I was already about 6 stories up off the water or more.
The ship’s map of the Ross Sea region where McMurdo Station is located. I believe the lines drawn are the ship lanes or the route they broke the ice.