The Hill: Murkowski Questions Value of Icebreaker Repairs

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she isn’t convinced refurbishing one of only two polar icebreakers is a smart federal investment. 

Murkowski visited the Polar Sea, which is stationed in Seattle. The ship was commissioned in 1977 and has recently needed major repairs. 

“After seeing the Polar Sea firsthand, I am even more concerned with the status of the U.S. icebreaking fleet. This vessel was a workhorse for decades but is far from being returned to active duty,” Murkowski said Tuesday. “I really question the value of investing scarce federal resources to refurbish her when what the U.S. needs is modern technology and capabilities.”

As part of an agreement with Canada, the United States must maintain a polar fleet to help vessels traveling through ice in the Pacific Ocean. Canadian icebreakers are used along the North Atlantic. 

Murkowski said it is important for the United States to invest in newer icebreakers, which cost billions, instead of simply repairing the older ships in order to remain competitive in the Arctic. Russia maintains more than a dozen icebreakers. 

“In a matter of months, the United States will take the chair of the Arctic Council, and we need to be able to demonstrate leadership in the Arctic region in word and deed; having icebreakers at the ready, and investments in more on the way, are a way we can show we’re not going to allow America to fall further behind Russia or China or India,” Murkowski said.

By:  By Ramsey Cox