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From shore to ship
Durley named executive officer of icebreaker
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Cmdr. Mary Ellen Durley

U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Mary Ellen J. Durley, daughter of Robert and Mary Durley of Potosi, recently transferred from Washington, D.C., to Seattle.

Durley is a 1990 graduate of Potosi High School and a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Public and International Affairs from Virginia Tech, and has been on active duty service with the Coast Guard for more than 20 years.

Durley worked at the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters Office of Cutter Forces, and now will be serving for the next two years as the executive officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, working as the direct representative of the commanding officer and responsible for all administration, 134 personnel, organization, safety, and coordination of effort aboard the cutter. 

Polar Star is a Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker commissioned in 1976. The ship was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Co. of Seattle. 

Polar Star is one of the largest ships in the U.S. Coast Guard and one of the world’s most powerful non-nuclear ships. Polar Star has three shafts that are turned by either a diesel–electric or gas turbine power plant. Each shaft is connected to a 16-foot four-bladed controllable-pitch propeller. The diesel–electric plant can produce 18,000 shaft horsepower (13,425 kilowatts) and the gas turbine plant a total of 75,000 shaft horsepower (55,925 kilowatts). 

Polar Star also has the capability of carrying two helicopters during major deployments. The helicopters support scientific parties, do ice reconnaissance, cargo transfer, and search and rescue as required.

Polar has a variety of missions while operating in polar regions. During the six-month Antarctic deployments, the primary missions include breaking a channel through the sea ice to resupply the McMurdo Research Station in the Ross Sea. Resupply ships use the channel to bring food, fuel, and other goods to make it through another winter. In addition to these duties, Polar Star may serve as a scientific research platform with five laboratories and accommodations for up to 20 scientists. The “J”-shaped cranes and work areas near the stern and port side of ship give scientists the capability to do at-sea studies in the fields of geology, volcanology, oceanography, sea-ice physics and other disciplines.