Smarter in 60 Seconds: Icebreakers
If an icebreaker grinds to a halt on the Antarctic ice, there’s usually only one chance for salvation: calling in a colossus with more horsepower at its disposal for help. In December 2013, when the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long got stuck while attempting to free a Russian research vessel, China and Russia called on the U.S. for assistance. In response a true specialist was deployed: Polar Star. The 399-foot-long U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker is considered to be the most powerful non– nuclear powered icebreaker in the world: With its 75,000 shaft horsepower it can break through ice up to 20 feet thick and extricate ships from even the most hopeless situations— from fi shing cutters right on up to icebreakers.