US Coast Guard in Suva

THE United States Coast Guard cutter Polar Star docked at the Port of Suva for the first time yesterday.

Commanding officer Mike Davanzo said after their deep freeze mission from Antarctica, they normally picked a Pacific Island country to visit before they departed for their home port in Seattle, Washington.

“What we typically do is we pick a track on the way home. Last year we stopped at Tahiti, this year we’re stopping in Fiji and it seems like a warm and welcoming country,” Cpt Davanzo said.

For most of the 150 member crew, this was the first time they had set foot on our shores and they enjoyed the much needed warmth after being in the Antarctica.

Capt Davanzo highlighted that some of the work they did as part of their tour included law enforcement, ice breaking, oil pollution response and search and rescue.

“There are times when we work under the navy, but we also work for the Department of Homeland Security, so that we do law enforcement, search and rescue, ice breaking, oil pollution response.

“We also conduct inspections of marine facilities so we have small boat stations that do rescues for recreational boaters and we do port security and petrol infrastructure.”

According to Capt Davanzo, the Polar Star was the only operational ice cutter in the US.

“The ship could break up to 24 kilometres of ice channels and up to 2.5 metres in thickness of ice and is considered the only operational heavy ice breaker in the United States,” he said.

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