Polar Star

Just back from a short field season in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (more on that soon).  While at McMurdo Station on the way home, I got a chance to visit the Polar Star, the only working icebreaker in the US fleet:

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It was a very interesting experience, and we had a wonderful tour from one of the coastguard personnel.  But the visit brought home to me just how dilapidated and fragile US polar logistics have become.  The Polar Star is something of a floating museum and it sounds like it spends almost all of the time it is not in Antarctica being repaired for the following season.  Apparently there is a new icebreaker on its way, but this won’t be available for another few years.  More than my previous two visits to McMurdo, the place seemed a little old and tired.  The LC 130 that few us down doesn’t seem to be in a much better condition than the Polar Star.  It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to the US Antarctic Program over the next few years…

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