In 2015, Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Carrillo, a marine science technician, stepped off a 420-foot icebreaker and onto the North Pole for the first time. The barren and frigid landscape was vastly different from the desert sands he grew up with more than 4,000 miles away in El Paso, Texas. Due to a bad back, Carrillo deviated from law enforcement to marine science, which eventually led him to join the small community of Arctic blue nose polar bear sailors.
The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy completed their second mission of their Arctic West Summer 2018 deployment Thursday, Oct. 18. Mission 1802 was a scientific mission to study stratified ocean dynamics in the Arctic (SODA) for the Office of Naval Research. Healy is one of two icebreakers in U.S. service that serves American interests in the region helping us better understand, plan and prepare for increased human activity.
The Coast Guard’s missions in the Arctic are evolving with the changing landscape. Six teams of Coast Guard Academy cadets have been working on their capstone projects exploring and designing icebreakers capable of operating in both the Arctic and Great Lakes, as well as applying conceptual understanding of the Arctic domain to build foundational relationships between Arctic nations.
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star’s commanding officer gives insight on what made the Operation Deep Freeze 2018 mission a success. Through dedication and devotion to duty, the crew once again accomplished their mission breaking ice and creating a navigable channel through the Antarctic to National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station.
The Coast Guard Polar Star’s leader, Capt. Michael Davanzo, ensures his crew’s proficiency at navigating through the ice of Antarctica. Having that knowledge bequeathed from crew to crew allows the mission to continue for years to come. As the Antarctic landscape once again freezes over, Coast Guard ice captains will be there to lead the expedition and ensure mission success.
The Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, the United States’ only heavy icebreaker has commenced its annual Operation Deep Freeze in contribution to the National Science Foundation (NSF)-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. The Polar Star’s job is to forcibly clear a path through frozen waters for supply ships headed to Antarctica’s logistics hub, McMurdo Station.
The icebreaker-focused briefing served as an opportunity for the Vice Commandant to highlight two heavy icebreakers – the nation’s entire inventory of this strategic asset. Only one is operational, the Polar Star, and Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea, the other heavy icebreaker, reached the end of its serviceable life in 2010 having suffered casualties to two main engines.
What started as a source of pride aboard the former Coast Guard Cutter Glacier in the mid 1970s, donning a red uniform ball cap, is now part of a right of passage for those who serve aboard icebreakers throughout the Coast Guard.
The process of icebreaking involves more than using the biggest hammer and busting your way through. Even the biggest hammer can be broken if mistakes are made.To some, the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star may seem like a very big hammer to throw at the ice but there’s actually an art to icebreaking.
At the start of the new year, crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star found themselves on the other side of the world, headed to one of the least hospitable places on Earth, Antarctica. Polar Star’s primary mission is to enable cargo ships to resupply the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole stations on the southernmost continent.