La liste des incidents du USCG Polar Star continue à s’allonger. Les capacités polaires des garde-côtes états-uniens sont à la merci d’un incident…
FIRE IN ANTARCTIC OCEAN Aboard USCG’s Last Heavy Icebreaker – gCaptain
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, with 75,000 horsepower and its 13,500-ton weight, is guided by its crew to break through Antarctic ice en route to the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, Jan. 15, 2017. The ship, which was designed more than 40 years ago, remains the world’s most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley
The 150-member crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sta_r fought a fire at approximately 9 p.m. PST Feb. 10 that broke out in the ship’s incinerator room about 650 miles north of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.
After initial response efforts using four fire extinguishers failed, fire crews spent almost two hours extinguishing the fire. Fire damage was contained inside the incinerator housing, while firefighting water used to cool exhaust pipe in the surrounding area damaged several electrical systems and insulation in the room.
Repairs are already being planned for the Polar Star’s upcoming maintenance period. The incinerator will need to be full functional before next year’s mission.
“_It’s always a serious matter whenever a shipboard fire breaks out at sea, and it’s even more concerning when that ship is in one of the most remote places on Earth,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Area.
The Feb. 10 fire was not the first engineering casualty faced by the Polar Star crew this deployment. While en route to Antarctica, one of the ship’s electrical systems began to smoke, causing damage to wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of the ship’s two evaporators used to make drinkable water failed. The electrical switchboard was repaired by the crew, and the ship’s evaporator was repaired after parts were received during a port call in Wellington, New Zealand.
The ship also experienced a leak from the shaft that drives the ship’s propeller, which halted icebreaking operations to send scuba divers into the water to repair the seal around the shaft. A hyperbaric chamber on loan from the U.S. Navy aboard the ship allows Coast Guard divers to make external emergency repairs and inspections of the ship’s hull at sea.
The Polar Star also experienced ship-wide power outages while breaking ice. Crew members spent nine hours shutting down the ship’s power plant and rebooting the electrical system in order to remedy the outages.
The U.S. Coast Guard maintains two icebreakers – the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, which is a medium icebreaker, and the Polar Star, the United States’ only heavy icebreaker. If a catastrophic event, such as getting stuck in the ice, were to happen to the Healy in the Arctic or to the Polar Star near Antarctica, the U.S. Coast Guard is left without a self-rescue capability.
By contrast, Russia currently operates more than 40 icebreakers – several of which are nuclear powered.