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Seattle icebreaker Polar Star assigned to Arctic instead of Antarctic this year

The change in deployment from the U.S. Coast Guard was due to concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Editor's note: The above video previously aired on KING 5 in 2019 when the Polar Star departed Seattle for Antarctica.

JUNEAU, Alaska -- The U.S. Coast Guard will assign its icebreaker Polar Star, which is based in Seattle, to the Arctic in December instead of its normal role in supporting Antarctic affairs. 

The change in deployment was due to concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Juneau Empire reported the announcement also echoes concerns from military commanders in Alaska about security in the region. 

The 44-year-old ship built in Seattle typically supports Operation Deep Freeze during the Antarctic summer from September to March, when it helps clear sea ice from the region to allow supply ships to reach McMurdo Station. 

The Polar Star is the only ship of its kind available to the Coast Guard until three new Polar Security Cutters come online in the next decade or so. 

The new ships will also call Seattle home