United States Coast Guard vessel to dock in Lyttelton

(Supplied)
(Supplied)

A United States Coast Guard vessel will dock in New Zealand on its way back from Antarctica later this month.  

US officials requested permission from the New Zealand Government to allow US Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Polar Star a port call in Lyttelton, near Christchurch.

The vessel is used in Antarctica every year for breaking through ice to create channels for cargo ships and fuel tankers in McMurdo Sound, close to the US base McMurdo Station.

US Deputy Ambassador Candy Green says the stop in New Zealand makes sense.

"A number of the scientific programs in Antarctica will benefit from this year's supply stop in Lyttelton," she says. "This visit saves days of transit time for the vessel and the fuel associated saves money, and strengthens our joint cooperation on the ice.

"This way frees up space on the US Antarctic Program's fleet of ski-equipped LC-130 cargo aircraft to conduct missions on the continent."

The vessel's visit comes after the first US ship to visit New Zealand in 32 years docked in November last year, when the USS Sampson attended the New Zealand Navy's 75th anniversary commemorations in Auckland.

New Zealand banned US vessels in 1987 after a nuclear-free law was put in place prohibiting nuclear armed and powered vessels entering New Zealand waters.

The USCGC Polar Star's arrival date will depend on when it departs Antarctica.

Newshub.