Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star holds change-of-command ceremony > United States Coast Guard News > Press Releases

VALLEJO, Calif. — U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) personnel held a change-of-command ceremony Monday at Mare Island, Vallejo, California.

Vice Adm. Andrew J. Tiongson, commander, Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony, where Capt. Jeffrey J. Rasnake relieved Capt. Keith M. Ropella as the Polar Star commander.

Rasnake’s previous assignment was as the Deputy Director for Financial Management Procurement Service modernization.

This is Capt. Rasnake’s sixth tour afloat. Following commissioning, he served as a Deck Watch Officer aboard the CGC Sweetbrier (WAGL 405/WLB 405) in Cordova, Alaska until cross-decking to the CGC Sycamore (WLB 209) as Operations Officer. Subsequent afloat tours include Executive Officer of the CGC Morro Bay (WTGB 106) in New London, Connecticut; Operations Officer of the CGC Rush (WHEC 723) in Honolulu, Hawaii; Commanding Officer of the CGC Naushon (WPB 1311) in Ketchikan, Alaska; and as Executive Officer of the CGC Polar Star (WAGB 10) from 2017-2019.

Capt. Keith M. Ropella will be heading to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC, to serve as the Chief of Cutter Forces. 

Capt. Ropella received the Meritorious Service Medal for his service as commander, Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, from July 2022 to July 2024.

Polar Star is a 399-foot heavy polar icebreaker commissioned in 1976, weighing 13,500 tons and is 84-feet wide with a 34-foot draft. It is the United States’ only heavy icebreaker and its only asset capable of providing access to both Polar Regions and completing Operation Deep Freeze.

Operation Deep Freeze is the annual logistical support mission provided by the Department of Defense to the National Science Foundation (NSF) managed by the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). This includes coordination of strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical intra-theater airlift and airdrop, aeromedical evacuation support, search and rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling, and transportation requirements supporting the NSF. This is a unique mission demonstrating U.S. commitment to the Antarctic Treaty and to research programs conducted for the betterment of all humanity. The Polar Star and crew contribute to this yearly effort through icebreaking to clear the channel for supply vessels.


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