Murkowski Promotes U.S. Coast Guard Assets through Appropriations Work

Senator Leverages her Committee Position to Add National Security Cutter, Additional Tools for Coast Guard’s Work

Senator Lisa Murkowski today successfully worked with her Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee colleagues to finalize a 2016 spending bill that will help the United States Coast Guard protect and monitor Alaska’s waters.  The Department of Homeland Security budget, which passed out of the Appropriations Committee and now heads to the Senate floor, includes funds for an additional national security cutter, better navigational aids on the water, and promotes a higher presence in the Arctic and northern waters. Additionally, the bill stresses the need for increased coverage and attention for the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea.

“When I talk with Coast Guard members in Alaska, I am struck with how much they accomplish with the tools we provide them. Giving them more support can only improve our national security on the water, allow us to monitor the Arctic more closely, and save lives of Alaskans caught in treacherous conditions,” said Murkowski.  “With 44,000 miles of coastline, Alaska asks a lot of the Coast Guard, and I thank my colleagues for working with me to increase the USCG’s budget by $730 million above what the President suggested.”

Today’s 2016 Department of Homeland Security budget reflects Senator Murkowski’s work to boost Alaska’s U.S. Coast Guard presence by:

  • Funding the U.S. Coast Guard at $10.48 billion, $730M above the President’s request.
  • Including $640 million towards the construction of a ninth national security cutter.
  • Providing $4 million to continue developing a new Polar Icebreaker.
  • Focusing on the need for consistent Bering Sea Patrol Coverage by the USCG, particularly as Arctic activities increase, through a provision submitted by Senator Murkowski:

The Committee is concerned that adequate cutter coverage in the Bering Sea and Arctic Region will become increasingly difficult to achieve as the medium endurance cutter Alex Haley and high endurance cutter Munro have both exceeded 40 years of service life under extremely demanding conditions. 

Not later than 60 days after the date on enactment of this act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the plans of the Coast Guard to ensure that at least one cutter capable of operating in and patrolling the Bering Sea and Arctic Region maintains a presence in the Bering Sea and Arctic Region at all times during the 10-year period beginning on the date of such submittal. 

  • Examining the potential aid that electronic navigational buoys would provide to the U.S. Coast Guard – specifically in Alaska’s waters – through a provision added by Senator Murkowski:

Not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere shall submit to Congress a report on the feasibility and advisability of using electronic buoys and aids to navigation in the Bering Sea and United States areas of the Arctic Ocean, including their use in the Port Access Route Study of the Coast Guard.

  • Including Senator Murkowski’s requested $6 million request for a report assessing the physical condition and capabilities of the U.S Coast Guard Cutter POLAR SEA, which has been out of service since 2010.