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At the poles, the end - or the beginning - of an era

from Defense Media Network

Her massive hull, driven by a gas turbine and diesel-electric engines that together generated 75,000 horsepower, could plow through ice as thick as 21 feet – six feet continuously, at a speed of three knots. She once smashed her way through to the southernmost point in Antarctica navigable by sea. One of only three ships to completely transit the Arctic Ocean and circumnavigate the North American continent, she was also the first American surface ship to reach the North Pole. And now the USCGC Polar Sea is on her way to retirement: according to the White House's 2012 budget proposal, the nearly 40-year-old Polar Sea will be decommissioned in 2011 and its crew – the only heavy icebreaker crew funded by the federal government – will be transferred to her sister ship, Polar Star. more

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