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USCG touts Polar Star investments as service underscores need for Polar Security Cutters

US Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Polar Star is scheduled to receive more upgrades to maintain deployments as the service builds new Polar Security Cutters. (US Coast Guard)

Upgrades made to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) heavy icebreaker Polar Star (WAGB-10) have been paying off during the Antarctica deployment for Operation ‘Deep Freeze', Captain William Woityra, ship commanding officer, told Janes .

More upgrades are planned for the ship, Capt Woityra noted, but added that the USCG will need the proposed Polar Security Cutter (PSC) fleet to meet the capacity and operational challenges in the polar realms.

“The PSCs are going to be a tremendous leap forward, not only in capability, but also in capacity,” Capt Woityra said during a 21 January satellite-phone interview. “That's the single biggest limiting factor now.”

After the recent upgrades, he said, “ Polar Star is in great shape.”

“The money invested for service-life extension is really starting to show. The reliability of the ship continues to improve. It's running as well as it has since reactivation – in many cases better. But we can only be in one place at one time. Having three or more PSCs will totally open the door for the coastguard to have that presence, to be in [the] place we need to be, and carry on our missions globally,” he added.

Until then, the US will have to maintain Polar Star and the ship's age, size, weight, and icebreaking capabilities increase the complexity of dry-dock maintenance.

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