“We need icebreakers”–Adm Papp

The Commandant has come out and said what we already knew. Navy Times is reporting Admiral Papp stated “We need icebreakers up [in the Arctic], and right now our icebreakers are in a sorry state…They need replacement or very thorough renovation to allow the United States to sustain an active presence and support our sovereignty up there.”

Let’s be clear, a “very thorough renovation” may be needed, but it is not enough. The two Polar Class breakers are already 34 and 36 years old. Hopefully we will get them running again, but they will need to replaced within any prudent planning horizon. It seems to take us ten years to get a new ship built, so if we start on their replacements now, they will be about 46 years old when they are replaced. We need to start with the assumption that we will build new icebreakers, then we can make intelligent decisions about how much to invest in the Polar Class.  The replacement ships may not need to be as large or as powerful, but even a ship of comparable capabilities should be possible that is cheaper to man, run, and maintain. The question is not do we need new icebreakers, it is how quickly? Expecting these ships to soldier on without a planned replacement is unrealistic.

11 thoughts on ““We need icebreakers”–Adm Papp

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention “We need icebreakers”–Adm Papp - CGBlog.org -- Topsy.com

  2. Presto, some fairy godmother grants you $3 billion to procure some needed Icebreakers.

    Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to choose a shipyard to construct your brand new large icebreakers. You can select Domestic or Foreign yard.

    Which shipyard will to pump $3 billion into ?

    (one catch: you need these 2 or 3 big icebreakers quickly and they must have Quality. Lots of it). Good luck. This tape will self-destruct in 10 seconds. Hint if you select a CONUS yard, your “Mission” is, indeed, “Impossible” !

    • Look on the bright side. While we are 25 years behind schedule developing an MEC replacement. We are only 14 years behind on the WAGB. Then too there are the icebreaking tugs and the inland AtoN vessels.

  3. Please, please replace not only the ice breakers but all of the ancient vessels of the USCG. My son is on a 40+ year old cutter on the Bearing Sea and every day I worry that it might be the day that “the disaster at sea” will happen. We all know that its only a matter of time and up until that time nothing will get done. Our government refuses to act proactively and responsibly. Instead they will sit back and wait for a disaster at sea with our aging vessels and at the cost of how many USCG servicemen ? Please those of you with power to make this change, be proactive & dont wait for a disaster.

    • Ruth for what it is worth, I don’t think your son or any of our Coast Guardsmen are in any great danger because of the age of our ships, but the ability to reliably do the job is in danger.

    • I sailed on an ancient cutter in the Bering Sea, and I never once feared for my safety. As Chuck as noted, the problem with the age of the surface fleet is not that the crew is in danger, but that they cannot always complete the mission.

  4. If all we want of these Icebreakers is to operate in the Arctic during the summer, primarily in ice free areas to do “presence,” SAR, and MLE missions, with occasional ventures into light ice to rescue vessels that foolishly get themselves stuck in the ice, we might be able to use a modified Mackinaw design. Probably would want a helo deck and hanger added.

    We did have a discussion about Arctic Patrol Vessels earlier:

  5. I sailed on a 33 year old cutter in the Bering Sea. We had a fire and explosion in Unimak Pass and damn near sank.

    It isn’t necessarily the age of the ship as much as the condition of the ship. That particular ship should have been decommed and was about a year later.

  6. Pingback: Maritime Monday 239 – Anxious Moments — gCaptain- A Maritime & Offshore News Blog

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