Tuesday, February 16, 2021

USCG Cutter Polar Star to Wrap Up Arctic Deployment

Crew members of the Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star will soon wrap up a months-long deployment in the Arctic, where members have been assisting scientific researchers and providing security and maritime law enforcement in the polar region.

Cutter Polar Star accompanied scientists and researchers to help better understand the arctic through a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of Washington, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the USCG said.

“The Arctic is cold, dark, and difficult to navigate in the winter,” said Capt. Bill Woityra, the Polar Star's commanding officer. “Deploying with researchers and scientists aboard has aided in the development, understanding and pursuit of technologies that will mitigate risks and enable future mission performance so that looking forward, the Coast Guard can safely operate continually and effectively in this remote environment.”

The Polar Star has allowed experts to study ice and water flow in the area and test out technology. For example, the Mobile User Objective System – an ultra-high frequency satellite communications system created by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Navy – was placed on Polar Star to test out the device at high latitudes during the difficult Arctic winter. The system is designed to offer secure connections for mobile forces. “Looking towards the future, all signs point toward the Coast Guard deploying more platforms to the Arctic, more often and during different seasons of the year,” said Woityra. “The Coast Guard is robustly proficient at summer-time Arctic operations, while winter presents an entirely new set of challenges. Polar Star's winter Arctic deployment has served to better understand and prepare for the challenges of operating in such a harsh and unforgiving environment.”