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US Coast Guard Polar Star berths at Suva Port

The United States of America Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, one of the world’s most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker arrived at the Suva King’s Wharf, Suva yesterday. It will be in
28 Feb 2018 14:21
US Coast Guard Polar Star berths at Suva Port
United States of America Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, one of the world’s most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker, berthed at the Suva King’s Wharf on February 27, 2018. pHOTO: Nacanieli Tuilevuka

The United States of America Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, one of the world’s most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker arrived at the Suva King’s Wharf, Suva yesterday.

It will be in port the next two days.

The 150-member crew on board consists of personnel trained in navigation, engineering, welding, machinery repair, electronics, boat handling, fire fighting, damage control, underwater diving, medicine, and nearly every other kind of special skill that could possibly be needed out at sea.

Based in Seattle, Washington, US; the Polar Star was built in 1972 for operation in the Polar Regions.

The polar regions of Earth are also known as Earth’s frigid zones.

These regions are dominated by Earth’s polar ice caps, the northern resting on the Arctic Ocean and the southern continent of the Antarctica.

The other US ice breaker Polar Sea was deactivated in 2010. Now Polar Star is the sole US heavy icebreaker.

Commanded by Captain Michael Davanzo said the non-nuclear ice-breaker had a variety of missions while operating in Polar Regions.

“The icebreaker has recently been in Antarctica, where it established a channel through 15 miles of ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, sometimes up to eight feet (2.44m) in thickness,” Captain Davanzo said.

“It has conducted close-in merchant vessel escorts to McMurdo Station to resupply the United States’ National Science Foundation’s McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole stations.

“During Antarctic deployments, the primary missions include breaking a channel through the sea ice to resupply the McMurdo Research Station in the Ross Sea. Resupply ships use the channel to bring food, fuel, and other goods to make it through another winter.

“In addition to these duties, the Polar Star also serves as a scientific research platform with five laboratories and accommodations for up to 20 scientists.

“The “J”-shaped cranes and work areas near the stern and port side of the ship give scientists the capability to do at-sea studies in the fields of geology, volcanology, oceanography, sea-ice physics, and other disciplines,” he said.

The ship has four sizable lounges, a library, a gymnasium, and a small ship’s store.

“The ship also has its own Post Office, satellite pay telephones, amateur radio equipment, a computer lounge (for  Internet access, distance learning,), and movie library,” he said.

Captain Davanzo said this was most of the crew’s first trip to Fiji.

“First couple of days of us travelling to Fiji was a bit rough but then there was a pleasant ride and a beautiful sky,” he said.

“We are grateful to be here in Fiji and it is new for most of us and we appreciate the hospitality.

“We have some supplies to pick up and we had some casualities in our ship that needs maintenance.

“We’ve have some parts sent here, so we could do some repair work.”

He said they have never been home since they left Seattle for the Antarctica late last year.

“We left Seattle on November 30th and we will get back on March 18, 2018,” he said.

“We will be at the home port for about to 16 to 18 days, before drydocking at Seattle.”

He said the main challenge for the crew was the cold.

“The main challenge for the crew is braving the cold as we had spent four months at the Antarctica,” he said.

The Polar Star leaves for Seattle on Friday.

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