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Ice-busting ship preps for trip amid push to replace fleet

  • In this Monday, Dec. 12, 2016 photo, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star rests by a dock in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The only U.S. ship capable of breaking through Antarctica’s thick ice is undergoing repairs in balmy Hawaii this week as it prepares to head south. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

The only U.S. ship capable of breaking through Antarctica’s thick ice is undergoing repairs in balmy Hawaii this week as it prepares to head south.

The voyage by Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star comes as the U.S. aims to replace and expand its aging fleet of polar icebreakers so it can maintain a presence in the most remote corners of the world.

The demand for icebreaking ships is expected to grow as climate change melts sea ice and lures more traffic to northern Arctic waters.

The 40-year-old Polar Star, which was built to last only three decades, is expected to carve a channel through 30 miles of ice so ships can resupply a U.S. research center in Antarctica.

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