The U.S. Antarctic Program will have a new ship for working in polar waters by early 1992. It will be the first U.S. ship with icebreaking capability dedicated to scientific research. The Polar Duke, currently leased by the National Science Foundation, which manages the program, is ice-strengthened but cannot break ice.
NSF announced in February that an $83.8-million contract for construction and 10-year lease of the 900-m ship had been signed with Edison Chouest Offshore, Inc., of Galliano, La. The design calls for a crew of 22, support for the research of 37 scientists for cruises as long as 75 days, a helicopter landing deck and housing and maintenance for two 4-passenger helicopters. The ship will have two propellers with three diesel engines driving each; the six engines can generate 11,070 horsepower. While it is not a true icebreaker, the ship will be able to break ice as thick as a meter at a speed of 3 knots