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In One Ear: USCG to Polar Sea: It’s over

Published on May 27, 2016 12:01AM

“I’m on a tug assisting an ocean tug towing the decommissioned Coast Guard ice breaker Polar Sea,” Curt Dawson, a Foss deck engineer, told the Ear on Saturday. “She’s going to the ‘bone yard’ (in Seattle) and probably never seen again by the public. You probably won’t see us on the Foss tug ‘Kalama.’ We’re ‘made up’ on the Washington side of the ship.”

Being a fan of all things seaworthy, the Ear rushed down to the 14th Street dock to take a photo (shown) of the stately vessel sailing by, being towed by another Foss tug. There’s a video of the tow, and an interview with Curt, by Jeff Daly, and it’s posted at

Polar Sea’s Coast Guard website says the vessel, which was built by Lockheed and commissioned in 1977, is considered “one of the world’s most powerful, conventionally propelled icebreakers,” and was designed to perform Coast Guard missions at both poles (

With a reinforced hull and up to 75,000 horsepower, Polar Sea can break up to 21 feet of ice, or 6 feet at a continuous 3-knot speed. It can carry 150 crew members plus 35 scientists and technicians, and has five internal laboratories, with room for seven more portable labs on deck.

According to, the Polar Sea was scheduled to be scrapped in 2012, but got an unexpected reprieve, and rebuilding the vessel was under consideration as a way to save taxpayer dollars ( The reprieve is over.

— Elleda Wilson


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