Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska's congressional delegation lauds icebreaker funding

Alaska’s congressional delegation are celebrating the bicameral passage of a federal government spending package that will not only keep the federal government from shutting down but also funds the construction of a new polar icebreaker for the United States Coast Guard fleet, something the state’s three members of Congress have been pushing for.

The funding bill included $655 million for the design and construction of the icebreaker, $20 million for materials for an eventual second icebreaker, $400 million for offshore patrol cutters and $340 million for fast response cutters, six of which will be based in Alaska. The bill also provides $53 million for shore-side infrastructure facilities in Alaska to support the new cutters, with $22 million going to Kodiak and $31 million to Seward.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, noted the passage as a “significant step in the right direction to an icebreaker fleet.”

“I thank President Trump for signing this funding measure into law, which provides full funding for a heavy polar security cutter (aka a heavy icebreaker) as well as initial funding for a second,” Murkowski said in a statement Wednesday. “I have been pushing to fully fund the acquisition of a fleet of Arctic-capable icebreakers — because of the importance of this vessel for the safety and security of the Arctic region and for our national security as a whole.”

Murkowski noted her lengthy push to prioritize Arctic exploration and security through the years.

“This is a huge victory in my yearslong fight to help fulfill America’s responsibilities as an Arctic nation and to support the U.S. Coast Guard with the assets needed to carry out its mission — whether that’s monitoring increased levels of shipping, preventing and intercepting illegal activity, carrying out search and rescue or keeping our waters — and people — safe,” she said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, released a statement Wednesday praising the funding.

“After years of advocating for the federal government to take America’s role as an Arctic nation seriously, we have finally secured substantial resources for our country to strengthen its position in the region with a brand-new icebreaker,” he said. “With this appropriation, Congress and the Trump administration are acknowledging that Alaska is America’s Arctic, a fact that is important to our broader national security interests.”

Sullivan noted his place on the Commerce and Armed Services Committees, adding that these roles, as well as Murkowski’s seat on the Appropriations Committee, helped move this process forward.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, posted to his Twitter account and Facebook page celebrating the funding, noting the funding is a positive move.

“The funding for new icebreakers included in the recent spending bill is good news for Alaska. The included funds represent huge progress from previous years in recapitalizing our polar security cutter fleet,” Young posted to Twitter.

Congress passed the bill Thursday and President Trump signed the legislation into law Friday, securing government funding through Sept. 30.

By:  Erin McGroarty
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner