The U.S. Coast Guard’s sole heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) will deploy to the Arctic this winter, the service announced.
Typically, the Polar Star travels to Antarctica each year in support of Operation Deep Freeze (OpDFrz or ODF), the annual military mission to resupply the United States’ Antarctic stations, in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF). This year’s maritime resupply at McMurdo Station was cancelled due to COVID-19 safety precautions, and a limited resupply will be conducted via aircraft.
According to a Coast Guard statement, Operation Deep Freeze is an “enduring mission that requires a heavy icebreaker for a full resupply”, and the service anticipates resuming this critical deployment next year.
“The Arctic is no longer an emerging frontier, but is instead a region of growing national importance,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “The Coast Guard is committed to protecting U.S. sovereignty and working with our partners to uphold a safe, secure, and rules-based Arctic.”
In April 2019, the Coast Guard released the Arctic Strategic Outlook, which reaffirms the service’s commitment to American leadership in the region through partnership, unity of effort, and continuous innovation.