Coast Guard Crew Takes on Deep Freeze

Department of Defense | Jan. 11, 2024

By Press Operations

A large group of Coast Guard members stand in front of a cutter on ice.

The Coast Guard cutter Polar Star is in Antarctica for Operation Deep Freeze, a joint service, interagency support operation for the National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program. 

The military's support of Antarctic research began in 1955. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command continues to lead the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica team in providing logistic support for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

A group of Coast Guard members mimic towing a vessel on Antarctic ice using a rope.
Ice Liberty The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Polar Star participates in an ice liberty in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2023. The free time gives the crew a moment to walk on the ice and “tow” the vessel. Photo By: Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Graves

The icebreaking cutter plays a key role in the operation, making a channel through thick ice to allow fuel and supply ships to reach McMurdo Station, the U.S. Antarctic Program's logistics hub and largest station.

Two coast guardsmen wearing cold weather gear slide from a piece of broken ice into the semi-frozen water next to the side of a cutter.
Testing the Icy Waters Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Tangermann and Petty Officer 2nd Class Harrison Bauer lower themselves into the water while practicing ice rescue techniques in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2023. Operation Deep Freeze is one of many operations in the Indo-Pacific in which the U.S. military promotes security and stability across the region. Photo By: Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Graves
A Coast Guard member swims in icy water during rescue training. The hull of a Coast Guard cutter can be seen in the background.
Ice Rescue Training Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Harrison Bauer swims next to the vessel while practicing ice rescue techniques in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2023, during Operation Deep Freeze. Photo By: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Graves
A Coast Guard member swims in icy water during rescue training.
Ice Rescue Training Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Harrison Bauer swims in icy water during ice rescue training in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2023, during Operation Deep Freeze. Photo By: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Graves.

The crew practiced ice rescue techniques and observed Adélie penguins as they walked near the cutter in the McMurdo Sound.

A Minke whale blows in the channel recently broken by the Coast Guard cutter Polar Star in front of a group of Adélie penguins in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 28, 2023, during Operation Deep Freeze.
An Adélie penguin swims in the water next to the Coast Guard cutter Polar Star in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 28, 2023.
Two huddles of Adélie penguins walk toward each other next to the channel made by the Coast Guard cutter Polar Star in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 28, 2023, during Operation Deep Freeze.
Adélie penguins walk alongside the Coast Guard cutter Polar Star in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 28, 2023, during Operation Deep Freeze.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Kody Young and Coast Guard Seaman Daegan Buzbee watch Adélie penguins in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2023. The Coast Guard cutter Polar Star is en route to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, a joint service, interagency support operation for the National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program.

Every year, a joint and total force team works together to complete a successful Operation Deep Freeze season. Active, Guard and reserve service members from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy participate in the mission.