Crew members aboard the Coast Guard cutter Polar Star spent the last days of 2022 peeping penguins and navigating through pack ice in the Southern Ocean, as the United States’ only heavy icebreaker conducts its annual mission for Operation Deep Freeze.

The operation is a joint military mission to resupply the nation’s Antarctic stations in support of the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

The Polar Star plays a key role in Deep Freeze, breaking a navigable channel through miles of ice up to 21 feet thick to allow fuel and supply ships to reach McMurdo Station, the U.S. Antarctic Program’s logistics hub and largest station.

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