Murkowski: World is Expecting Us to “Step it Up” on the Arctic

Senator: India and China are Investing, Why Aren’t We?

Senator Murkowski today continued her fierce advocacy for U.S. Arctic awareness and investment in the Senate Appropriations Committee while they considered the 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations Funding Bill.  To press her points, Murkowski cited the Coast Guard’s 2011 High Latitude Story, which concluded that the U.S. needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers to meet its statutory requirements – and pointed out how far behind the nation is behind other Arctic nations.

During the hearing, Murkowski pointed out that America is falling significantly behind other nations in terms of the number of icebreakers in our fleet. Russia has 33 icebreakers in the water, Canada has six, China has one and is currently designing another, and India is in the process of acquiring one now – noting that India is far from an Arctic nation. Murkowski expressed her concerns with the U.S.’s 2026 target completion date for the next icebreaker, stating:

My concern is, and has been, that we are behind the game… I want our colleagues to be aware that this not an Alaska issue. This is not a Coast Guard issue. This is a national security issue. And we need to view the Arctic as an asset, an asset that needs some assistance right now.

The committee appropriated $6 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to fund the nation’s next icebreaker, far less than the estimated $1 billion price tag for a new icebreaker. Murkowski stated that without the funding needed to invest in Arctic icebreakers, the U.S. will remain reliant on countries such as Russia in case of emergency – which drew a gasp from committee members.

Senator Murkowski’s entire statement can be heard by clicking here.