Refurbished Coast Guard Polar Sea icebreaker heads to Alaska Arctic | Alaska Dispatch
The freshly painted red Polar Star is 399 feet long, supports a crew of 134, and can conduct scientific operations with a staff of 32. Unlike the Coast Guard's medium-class icebreaker, the Healy -- a 420-foot vessel -- the Polar Star is equipped to smash through up to 6 feet of ice at 3 knots and 21 feet if backing and ramming. The Healy, which helped the Russian ship the Renda make its fuel delivery to Nome last winter, can break through 4.5 feet of ice at 3 knots, but only 8 feet when backing and ramming.Flashback: John Holdren And The Ice Free Arctic Winter | Real Science
With increased interest in the Arctic, traffic through the region from Russia has increased exponentially. That, combined with oil development interests in the Arctic, led to a call for more icebreakers to serve U.S. waters. Unfortunately, at the time, two of the nation's three ice breakers, both heavy class, were high and dry. A call for refurbishing the Polar Star was made and with political backing, the ship received an overhaul that was estimated to have cost more than $55 million. The coast guard reportedly hopes to get a decade's use out of the aging ship thanks to the makeover.
[Holdren] …if you lose the summer sea ice, there are phenomena that could lead you not so very long thereafter to lose the winter sea ice as well.