February 2, 2016

2259 ANTARCTICA - Polar Star on duty in Antarctic waters

Polar Star (WAGB-10) is a United States Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker commissioned in 1976 and built, along with her sister ship, Polar Sea (WAGB-11), in Seattle (Washington), which is also its homeport. It has sufficient hull strength to absorb the high-powered ice breaking common to her operations. The curved bow allows Polar Star to ride up on the ice, using the ship's weight to break the ice. It is able to break through ice up to 6.4m thick by backing and ramming, and can steam continuously through 1.8m of ice at 3 knots (5.6 km/h).

Duty on an icebreaker is long and strenuous, especially when it involves being away from homeport for up to eight months out of the year. Therefor, the crew is highly self-sufficient, so the personnel (15 officers and 126 enlisted) is trained in nearly every other kind of special skill that could possibly be needed. The ship has four sizable lounges, a library, a gymnasium, a store, its own post office, satellite pay telephones, amateur radio equipment, a computer lounge, and movie library.

The primary missions include breaking a channel through the sea ice to resupply the McMurdo Research Station in the Ross Sea. From McMurdo is resupplied, by air, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, located just at the South Pole, which has been continuously occupied since it was built, in 1956. The number of scientific researchers and members of the support staff housed at the Amundsen-Scott Station has varied seasonally, with a peak of about 200 people in the summer, and around 50 in winter.

About the stamp, issued in 2014 with the occasion of Earth Day, I wrote here.

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station - Wikipedia
USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) - Wikipedia

Sender: Scotty
Sent from Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station (Antarctica), on 23.11.2015  

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