Arctic icebreaker FACTs…how USCG’s ultra-powerful yacht works
Polar Star is the world’s MOST POWERFUL non-nuclear icebreaker.
This big boy uses 2 powerplants: Diesel-Electric and Gas
-Turns 6 turbines, with each producing 3,000hp.
Total Horsepower of six turbines X 3K = 18,000hp by Diesel-Electric
-Three of the 6 turbines provide the ship’s Internal power (electricity for crew)
-Other 3 diesel-electric turbines provide an additional 9,000hp to the ship’s main Gas propulsion (engine).
—Primary mover, Gas engine—
-Main engine for moving the ship, uses GAS to turn 3 huge propellers.
Each of the four-bladed propeller spans a diameter of 16-feet.
The Gas engine provides 25,000hp to each of the three propellers.
Gas turning 3 turbines = Providing 66,000hp
With an additional 9,000hp using Combined diesel-electric turbines.
TOTAL Combined Propulsion =
75 THOUSAND HORSPOWER
Just getting to Antarctica is an adventure.
The magic to breaking through ice that can measure up to 21-feet thick…requires more than just raw power???
Polar Star has a simple yet brilliant design for traveling at a SLOW speed while clearing a path through Earth’s harshest frozen Seas.
Secret 1 = Wide surface area “football” shape hull.
Secret 2 = ability to adjustable the PITCH of the 3 propellers.
WHY big deal???
The up-ward angle of Polar Star’s bow is designed so that the hull rides up ABOVE the ice surface during icebreaking operations.
Subsequently the ship’s weight and forward motion combine to fracture the ice.
Angle change of REAR propellers help push Front higher above the ice.
Higher above front = more weight and Force coming down on ice during forward motion.
Polar Star’s hull shape is designed to maximize icebreaking by efficiently combining the forces of the ship’s forward motion, the downward pull of gravity on the bow, and the upward push of the inherent buoyancy of the stern.
The curved bow allows Polar Star to ride up on the ice, using the ship’s weight to break the ice.
“HEELING system”…What the f-ck is that?
One more cool ability of the Polar Star, especially considering the ship was launched in 1976 (that be 45-yrs ago), the designers built in a massive version of a “heeling” system.
The ship’s HEELING system could rock the ship to prevent getting stuck in the ice.
It consisted of three pairs of connected tanks, on opposite sides of the ship.
Pumps transferred a tank’s contents of 35,000 US gallons to an opposing tank in 50 seconds…this transfer of energy/wieght generates 24,000 foot-tons of torque on the ship.
Secret 4: Good ol’ raw propulsion horsepower does matter.
The 13,000-ton Polar Star can steam continuously through 6 feet of ice at 3.5mph.
WHAT IS THE SHIP’s PRIMARY MISSION?
Science…and supporting the McMurdo Research Station at the Southern tip of the frozen continent.
–McMurdo Research Station–
Polar Star has a variety of missions while operating in polar regions. During Antarctic deployments, the primary missions include breaking a channel through the sea ice to resupply the McMurdo Research Station in the Ross Sea. Resupply ships use the channel to bring food, fuel, and other goods to make it through another winter. In addition to these duties, Polar Star also serves as a scientific research platform with five laboratories and accommodations for up to 20 scientists.
Under a 2006 law, since the vessels were designated primarily as research vessels, the National Science Foundation pays for and runs the United States’ ice breaking vessels, using Coast Guard crews.
it’s not currently owned by the US Coast Guard.
The ship has also rescued humans in neeed…
In February 2015 Polar Star was involved in the rescue of the Australian fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain, towing the ship and 27 crew to safety, through ocean ice and snow nearly 20 feet deep.
But still, main mission is to get scientist to their base.
The Polar Star rams the ice during winter to create space for all incoming ships at McMurdo Research Station’s port.
Yeah for science…
…and Thank You to the CG crew for helping push exploration forward with their bad-A icebreaking machine…the Polar Star.
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