Congressional Watchdog Questions Coast Guard Plans To Field Critical New Icebreakers

Congressional Watchdog Questions Coast Guard Plans To Field Critical New Icebreakers

Did you know that the Coast Guard’s existing icebreaker fleet technically consists of only three ships?They are the USCGC Polar StarUSCGC Polar Sea, and USCGC Healy.


Unfortunately, the Healy is a medium icebreaker with a more limited capability to move through ice-filled waters than the two heavy Polar-class ships, while the Polar Sea is in a permanently inactive state, serving as a source of spare parts for its sister ship.

Meanwhile, despite undergoing an extensive refit between 2010 and 2012, the 1970s-era Polar Star is prone to breakdowns and other problems.

The congressional watchdog wonders whether the service has done enough to mitigate possible delays and additional costs, because losing these specialized ships for an extended period of time could hamper the United State’s ability to operate in the increasingly contested and immensely strategic Arctic region.

Thanks to David Villeneuve for this link

23 thoughts on “Congressional Watchdog Questions Coast Guard Plans To Field Critical New Icebreakers”

  1. Just had a quick glance at Wiki and it states that Russia has 41 with at least a further 8 under construction.

    Yet billions upon billions has been spent on the flying brick that is the F-35, America has around 800 military bases around the world and it spends over 50% of the nation’s GDP on it’s military, quite a bit over when one considers that Veteran affairs and the Nuclear deterrent are budgeted separately.

    How much longer can this Imperial adventure continue and at what point does the nation collapse totally?

    To those of us outside it has already happened little to no monies spent on civilian infrastructure that counts just money spent on a futile and vain attempt at claiming to dominate nature with absurd Millennial bull and the rest of the budget spent in a weird counterintuitive attempt to blow the planet it purports to be rescuing to smithereens??

    Go home Yanquis your country needs you.

  2. I wonder.
    If instead of relying on the weight of the ship to break through the ice, what if you used industrial strength lasers to slice through it? Then the bulk of the ship would be able to move through it even easier.

    • the weight of the laser setup as well as a huge fuel load to power it i reckon sorta makes it a nice idea but not practicable.
      lasers are a fairly thin beam so while it might melt a slice i suspect it would refreeze as soon as the laser moved on
      sort of like cutting perspex witha jigsaw..(i admit to doing this) it cuts yes, but the heat generated just melted the area behind the blade and then it set hard again

      if it was possible…the russians would be doing it already;-) theyve had a heel of a lot more ice to contend with all over their top end.
      the real sad bit is you dont have 3 ships but ONE real breaker and one for light channels
      the 3rd if its being stripped is pretty much salvage/scrap.
      just about to post n mused
      if the ie was melting and being so warm and a problem etc etc
      then isnt it curious the Russians arent mentioning it? there were some reports about softening tundra and methane sinks rising but even they are fairly limited to what appear to be the russian equivalent of greenpeas ngo types trying to raise panic.

  3. Navy used to have a bunch of ice breakers too. 8 to be specific. The Wind class.
    Served in the US Navy, and Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard and even the Soviet Navy. Built during WWII most served well into the 70’s and the USCG Northwind served into the 80’s. 44 years continuously. That’s a lot of busted ice.
    An improved Wind class vessel the USS Glacier was the last ship in the world to sail virgin waters when she battered her way through the frozen Bellingshausen Sea. Most of the topographical features in that area are named for her crew.
    Despite efforts to buy her and turn her into a functioning breaker by former crew members she was broken up in 2012.
    Makes you wonder about the people we The People put in charge.

  4. Doesn’t surprise me. The navy doesn’t have enough mine sweepers and in places like the Persian Gulf has to rely on other countries. Mine sweepers and ice breakers just aren’t sexy enough compared to aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. As a result they don’t get the funding.

  5. Did not Barry Soetoro order a new Ice breaker when he was touting the name change of that mountain in Alaska? Yea, as he was talking about how GW would open the Arctic he signed the order for one new icebreaker that, according to Al and him, we should never need?

  6. Unfortunately, the link for the route of the Venta Maersk,

    is non-functional as the vessel heads to Bremerhaven via the Northern Sea Route along Russia’s Siberian coastline. According to the WP, the ship has passed through the Bering Strait & turned to port, so it will be interesting to discover how VM fares in the ice. The article, as expected, toes the line on Arctic ice, so the WP can only ignore the “inconvenient truth” that Russia possesses so many ice breakers & is building more!

  7. What Arctic ice? The Coast Guard uses its icebreaker to break the ice on the Hudson River each winter between Tarrytown (20 miles North of NYC) and Albany, to let fuel barges through.

  8. I think the US never saw a great need for heavy icebreakers after they built the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Especially after they closed the north slopes to drilling. It is Canada and Russia that have the long shores fronting the Arctic Ocean, thus the US hasn’t had a real need for icebreakers other than support of the Antarctic bases. And at this time, there really isn’t much need for heavy icebreakers either, since there is very little of Northern Alaska that needs the support. When they stopped development of them, Canada was too poor to build a fleet, and the Soviet Union was collapsing, thus there was no need to develop the Arctic.

    Russia has a strong need for heavy icebreakers, and since its resurgence, has developed the necessary fleet. And since their climate scientists are all saying it is going to get colder, they know they need even more if they want to keep shipping lanes open along the northern coast, something they need to do since at this time, there is little alternative for them to supply the region.

  9. Russia’s need for icebreakers (and much more) combine both military and Economy reasons. . In recent years, Russia unveiled a new Arctic command, four new Arctic brigade combat teams, 14 new operational airfields, 16 deepwater ports, and 40 icebreakers with an additional 11 in development. (The United States has one working icebreaker for the Arctic — it’s only other one is broken.)

    Here’s What Russia’s Military Build-Up in the Arctic Looks Like

  10. Ironically, the Coast Guard now falls under aegis of the DHS, the very same bunch charged with building the “great wall.” I’ve forgotten the dates but this all took place within the last few years. First we had a very cold arctic one winter so bad that Nome was once again isolated and needed fuel oil and supplies. The icebreaker Healy and an ancient Russian tanker made the run through the ice Nome. After that, funding was passed to atleast design some new icebreakers. However just this year, the funds were reallocated by the agency to help work toward builing the “the wall.”

  11. EVEN China’s getting into the Arctic \ Antarctic act as well…. Beijing just launched its first domestically built icebreaking ship, the ‘Xue Long 2’ (‘Snow Dragon’).. It now matches the U.S. in terms of operational icebreakers. Additional Polar Class icebreakers are already on the drawing board… China hopes the new vessel will give it an edge in competition with some of the other superpowers in the Arctic.

Comments are closed.