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Coast Guard starts fourth phase of work to extend Polar Star's service life


Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star docks at Mare Island Dry Dock in Vallejo, California, on April 3, 2024, for the fourth phase of its service life extension program. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard has initiated the fourth of five planned phases of Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star’s service life extension program (SLEP). The work is part of the In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program and is being completed at Mare Island Dry Dock in Vallejo, California.

The SLEP is being conducted in phases to take advantage of the planned maintenance availabilities that follow the cutter’s annual deployment to the polar regions. Polar Star completed a 138-day deployment to Antarctica, including operating for 51 days below the Antarctic Circle, in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2024, the annual joint military logistics mission to support the National Science Foundation, the lead federal agency with responsibility for management of scientific research that comprises the U.S. Antarctic Program. Polar Star and crew contribute to this yearly effort through icebreaking to clear the channel for supply vessels.

Phase 4 work began on April 1, 2024, and targets three systems:

  • The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is undergoing a refurbishment/overhaul of the ventilation trunks, fans and heaters that supply berthing areas of the ship.
  • All of the boiler support systems will be recapitalized/redesigned, including the electrical control station that is used to operate them.

A complete recapitalization/redesign of the flooding alarm system will occur from bow to stern to monitor machinery spaces for flooding.

The boiler system of Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, which will receive a recapitalization/redesign. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A section of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which is undergoing a refurbishment/overhaul of the ventilation trunks, fans and heaters that supply berthing areas of the ship. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

This phase of the SLEP is scheduled to be completed by August 2024 to enable Polar Star to meet its commitment to Operation Deep Freeze 2025.

The Polar Star SLEP addresses targeted systems such as propulsion, communication and machinery control systems for recapitalization. Major maintenance extends the service life of Polar Star beyond that of its original design. By replacing obsolete, unsupportable or maintenance-intensive equipment, the Coast Guard is mitigating the risk of lost operational days due to unplanned maintenance or system failures. The contracted SLEP work items and recurring maintenance is taking place within a five-year, annually phased production schedule running from 2021 through 2025.

Polar Star is the Coast Guard’s only active heavy polar icebreaker. The Coast Guard is investing in a new fleet of polar security cutters that will sustain the service’s capabilities to meet mission needs in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

For more information: In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program page and Polar Security Cutter Program page.