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VALLEJO, Calif. – Personnel of the U.S. Coast Guard Ship Polar Star (WAGB 10) held a change of command ceremony Monday at Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif.

Vice Admiral Andrew J. Tiongson, Commander, Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony during which Captain Jeffrey J. Rasnake relieved Captain Keith M. Ropella as commander of Polar Star.

Previously, Rasnake served as deputy director for financial management procurement modernization.

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

Captain Keith M. Ropella will proceed to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC to serve as Chief of Cutter Forces.

Captain Ropella received the Meritorious Service Medal for his service as Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Vessel Polar Star from July 2022 to July 2024.

Polar Star is a 430-foot (132-meter) heavy polar icebreaker commissioned in 1976. Weighing 13,500 tons, 85 feet (26 meters) wide, and with a 34-foot (10.3 meter) draft, she is the United States’ only heavy icebreaker and its only asset capable of accessing both polar regions and conducting Operation Deep Freeze.

Operation Deep Freeze is the U.S. Department of Defense’s annual logistics support mission for the National Science Foundation (NSF), managed by the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). This includes coordinating strategic airlift between war zones, tactical airlift and airdrop within war zones, airborne evacuation support, search and rescue operations, maritime transportation, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port handling, and transportation requirements in support of NSF. This is a unique mission that demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the Antarctic Treaty and to research programs that benefit all of humanity. The Polar Star and her crew contribute to this annual effort by breaking ice to clear the channel for supply ships.