CGC 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)
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-meter) diameter, four-bladed, controllable-pitch propeller. The diesel-electric plant can produce 18,000 shaft horsepower(13,425 kilowatts) and the gas turbine plant a total of 75,000shaft horsepower (55,925 kilowatts). Along with POLAR STAR's sister ship POLAR SEA, she is one of the largest ships in the US Coast Guard and the world's most powerful non-nuclear ships.
POLAR STAR has other unique engineering features designed to aid in icebreaking. An installed heeling system can rock the ship to prevent getting stuck in the ice. The system consists of three pairs of connected tanks on opposite sides of the ship. Pumps transfer a tank's contents (35,000 gallons, 133 kiloliters) to an opposing tank in 50 seconds and generate 24,000 foot-tons (64,800 kilowatt-seconds) of torque on the ship. That goes a long way in rocking POLAR STAR loose from any tight spots.
POLAR STAR carries two helicopters during major deployments. They support scientific parties, do ice reconnaissance, cargo transfer, and search and rescue as required.
POLAR STAR has a variety of missions while operating in polar regions. During Antarctic deployments, our 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, 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 ship give scientists the capability to do at-sea studies in the fields of geology, vulcanology, oceanography, sea-ice physics and other disciplines.
30 June 2006 the POLAR STAR went into a special status "Caretaker". This caretaker status required the crew to be reduced to 34 and to keep the ship ready for a possible return to the ice. The current Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen has made it one of his top three priorities to find a resolution to the current state of the Polar Icebreaking program.