Guard ice-breaker "Polar Sea" docked in Kodiak last week on its way to a
scientific mission in the Bering Sea. The 399
foot-long vessel docked at Pier Two just ahead of the winter storm that hit
Sea's missions include scientific and
logistical support for U.S.
interests in both polar regions. Polar Sea
is designed to move through six feet of ice at a speed of three knots. The Polar Sea
and its sister ship Polar Star are the world's most powerful non-nuclear ice-breakers. The cutter routinely operates in the Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea,
the Arctic Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica.
From its home port in Seattle, the thirteen thousand, five hundred-ton cutter stopped in
Kodiak to pick up the scientists who will conduct a study of the Bering Sea ecosystem from aboard the ship. The
two-month-long operation is part of a
six year study that's supported by the National Science Foundation and the
North Pacific Research Board.
While awaiting the embarkment of
the scientists, the Polar
Sea was opened to Kodiak
residents for tours.
The Polar Sea's public affairs officer is Lieutenant J.G. Emily Holt who escorted KMXT's Diana
Gish onboard. Holt said that when she joined the Coast Guard, she didn't picture
herself spending months at a time on a ship in the world's coldest places.
-- (POLARSEA "I wasn't sure
...sort of way.")
focus of the Polar Sea's current voyage is to examine the affects of
changing ice conditions on the food web structure in the northern
Bering Sea. The scientists will conduct their studies where the Bering Sea shifts from a fish-dominated system to an
arctic animal habitat. Lead scientist Lee Cooper says that the changing ice
conditions are, "likely to influence the potential expansion of Bering Sea
fisheries further north while shrinking arctic habitat on the continental