Polar Star it’s not the largest or most powerful ice breaker (like Russia’s nuclear-powered NS Yamal), but with its 75,000 horsepower can crush a two story ice wall.
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The Polar Star last week changed its way to deliver supplies to the NSF in Antarctica, to saving the Akademik Shokalskiy vessel and the Xue Long ice breaker. Is expected to reach the ships by January 12.
USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) is a United States Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker. Commissioned in 1976, the ship was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company of Seattle, Washington along with her sister ship, Polar Sea (WAGB-11).
Homeported in Seattle, Polar Star operates under the control of Pacific Area and coordinates its operations through the Ice Operations Section of the United States Coast Guard.
Ice floes in both the arctic and antarctic oceans are constantly jostling and shifting like ice cubes in a tumbler of whiskey. Normally, ships can simply push individual bergs out the way when navigating these polar sea routes. However, as was the case with a Russian research vessel, the Akademik Shokalskiy, last month, these routes can and do freeze solid, trapping ships for weeks or even months at a time.
Polar Star uses four different methods of electronic navigation to overcome the difficulties of high-latitude operations, and a computerized propulsion control system to effectively manage six diesel-powered propulsion generators, three diesel-powered ship’s service generators, three propulsion gas turbines, and other equipment vital to the smooth operation of the ship. The extensive use of automation and low maintenance materials have greatly reduced staffing requirements.
Polar Star’s three shafts are turned by either a diesel-electric or gas turbine power plant. Each shaft is connected to a 16-foot (4.9 m) diameter, four-bladed, controllable-pitch propeller. The diesel-electric plant can produce 18,000 shaft horsepower (13 MW) and the gas turbine plant a total of 75,000 shaft horsepower (56 MW).