Alaska Congressional Delegation Welcomes Progress on Icebreaker
Contract Awarded for New Polar Security Cutter
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today welcomed the announcement from the Department of Defense Contracting Office that VT Halter Marine Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi, has been awarded the contract to build the nation’s first new heavy Polar Security Cutter (PSC) in more than forty years. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz called the delegation to share the news and thank them for their united efforts in support of this historic acquisition.
In February, Congress passed a funding bill that was signed into law which included a total of $675 million for the PSC program—$655 million to fully fund the first PSC and $20 million for long lead time materials for a second PSC.
“This is an important and significant step towards an operational Polar Security Cutter to help meet our nation’s needs in the Arctic,” said Senator Murkowski. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have worked tirelessly to fully fund a polar icebreaker fleet and will continue to support the Coast Guard to make a U.S. polar capable fleet a reality. The U.S. cannot stand on the sidelines as other Arctic and non-Arctic nations continue to expand their icebreaker fleets and with it, their Arctic presence.”
“The United States cannot realize the potential of the Arctic—both for our national security and for the people who live there—without the technology necessary to protect our national interests in the far north,” said Senator Sullivan. “Today, the Coast Guard has taken another vital step toward securing our country’s place in this strategically-significant region with a contract award for a new polar security cutter. I appreciate Admiral Schultz for recognizing the importance of placing new Coast Guard assets and infrastructure in Alaska, and for working with Alaska’s congressional delegation to finally advance the planning, acquisition and build-out of America’s first new polar icebreaker in a generation.”
“As a longtime advocate for Arctic domain awareness, I am pleased to see the United States Navy and Coast Guard award this new Polar Security Cutter contract. This award is a major step toward finally recapitalizing our aging Polar Security Cutter fleet,” said Congressman Young. “Alaska plays a unique role in our national defense posture, and as interests in the Arctic continue to grow, our Polar Security Cutters will be vital assets for promoting safety and security for those in Alaska, the United States, and our allies across the globe.
The Coast Guard is the sole provider and operator of U.S. polar icebreakers. With only two operational icebreakers—the 20-year old medium icebreaker HEALY and the 43-year old heavy icebreaker POLAR STAR which only operates in the Antarctic—our national fleet does not currently have the capability or capacity necessary to assure access in the high latitudes. Because of this, the Coast Guard is unable to proactively manage risks in the Arctic maritime domain. The Coast Guard has previously announced it’s seeking a total of six new icebreakers, three heavy and three medium, to carry out its mission.