January 04, 2014

This Time For Sure



 The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star is one of the most powerful icebreakers capable of reaching Antarctica. (The huge Russian atomic powered icebreakers can't cross the equator due to a quirk of their reactor design)

Fortuitously the American vessel is was en route to supply the Research station at McMurdo when the Australian government requested assistance in breaking free the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long which became hopelessly stuck while rescuing passengers from the Russian ice strengthened cruise ship Akademik Shokalskiy which, as we've been noting with considerable bemusement was on a scientific expedition to research global warming by studying Antarctica's retreating ice sheet...only to have the ice sheet rally, turn, fight and overrun their position.

The Polar Star, while nearly 40 years old,  can break 21 feet of ice and has three times he installed power of the much larger Chinese ship so odds are good that they'll be successful.

Interestingly the Polar Star nearly wasn't available having been decommissioned in 2008 as worn out and beyond economic repair. However, it was decided in 2010 to put put a maintenance crew on the vessel rather than scrap her and ultimately the vessel was refitted to soldier on for several more years to supplement her sister and the larger but less powerful Healy while a new class of icebreakers is designed...and hopefully built.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:13 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 The huge Russian atomic powered icebreakers can't cross the equator due to a quirk of their reactor design.

That's a shame.  IMHO, it might be worth paying the Russians to station one of those big boys in the Antarctic for situations like this, although the cost of even getting one down there would be mind-boggling (they'd have to tow it across the tropics, with its reactor shut down).  OTOH, there would be the doubly-delicious irony of the next ice-bound ship-load of environmentalists being rescued by the Great Demon of Nuclear Power.

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Sun Jan 5 17:36:34 2014 (0KEH0)

2 The huge Russian atomic powered icebreakers can't cross the equator due to a quirk of their reactor design

They don't work upside down?

Seriously though, what's the quirk?

Posted by: Wonderduck at Sun Jan 5 21:38:53 2014 (Izt1u)

3 The huge Russian atomic powered icebreakers can't cross the equator due to a quirk of their reactor design.
And now, I hark off to wikipedia to learn more of this quirk.  Send help if I'm not back in a few hours...

Posted by: TheSquirrelPatrol at Sun Jan 5 22:09:23 2014 (da+4f)

4 Interestingly enough, wikipedia didn't have the answer, I had to browse a few pages of google links to find the answer.  I was expecting some weird quirk in the cooling circulation that would be screwed up by the tidal effects, but it's just that they rely on intake of very cold water.

Posted by: David at Sun Jan 5 22:26:34 2014 (da+4f)

Posted by: Rick C at Wed Jan 8 14:53:43 2014 (A9FNw)

6 One of the great moments of life was hearing a Coastie from an icebreaker crew call into Rush Limbaugh, and having him announce that he is officially bipolar because he's been to both Poles.

I know that has to be an old joke in certain circles, but it cracked me up.

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sat Jan 11 00:02:01 2014 (cvXSV)

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