The POLARSTERN is one of the world`s most powerful research icebreakers. Since her maiden voyage in 1982, she has been on numerous expeditions to the polar seas. Each year, she spends approximately 320 days at sea.

As a double-hulled icebreaker, the POLARSTERN can handle temperatures as low as - 50 degrees Celsius. Due to her 20,000 PS engines, the ship is able to pass through a 1.5 m ice sheet at a speed of 5 knots - thicker ice must be broken by ramming.

Usually, the POLARSTERN cruises the Antarctic Ocean during the Southern summer, lasting from November to March, and spends the Northern summer in Arctic waters. Besides the storage space needed for long expeditions, the ship hosts nine laboratories for biological, chemical, geological, geophysical, glaciological, oceanographic and meteorological research, as well as cooling chambers and aquariums. A 15 t crane can hoist research equipment into the water or onto the ice.

But research trips are just one of the POLARSTERN`s tasks. Another one is to supply the permanently manned German research stations in the Antarctic. Furthermore, the ship is a swimming weather station: Each day at sea, registering balloons are released to measure air pressure, temperature and wind speed. Meteorologists use the data to develop weather forecast models. As you can see, the POLARSTERN serves science in many ways

POLARSTERN description at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute

The Polarstern at a glance

Year of Construction: 1982
Owner: Ministry of Research
Operator: Alfred-Wegener-Institute
Port of Registry: Bremerhaven
Length: 118 m
Beam: max. 25 m
Draught: max. 11,2 m
Speed: 16 knots
Nautical Crew: 44 Persons
Scientists: 50 Persons


Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Polar and Marine research are central themes of Global system and Environmental Science. The A...