The US Naval Institute News Service has provided access to a report to Congress, “Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress,”by Ronald O’Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs, September 25, 2015.
I am repeating here the last two paragraphs of the Summary. I think they explain quite clearly the sad state of our icebreaker fleet.
“On September 1, 2015, the White House issued a fact sheet in conjunction with a visit to Alaska by President Obama indicating that the Administration, in its own internal planning, had at some point over the past two years deferred procurement of a new polar icebreaker to FY2022, but that this has now been changed to FY2020. The newly announced procurement date of FY2020 is a two-year acceleration from the previously unpublicized date of FY2022, and a two-year deferral from the FY2018 date implied in the FY2013 and FY2014 budget submissions. The fact sheet states that the Administration will also “begin planning for construction of additional icebreakers” beyond the one that the Administration proposes to procure in FY2020.–
“A polar icebreaker procured in FY2020 might enter service in 2024 or 2025. Polar Star has been refurbished and reentered service in December 2012 for an intended period of 7 to 10 years—a period that will end between December 2019 and December 2022. Consequently unless the service life of Polar Star is further extended (or unless Polar Sea is repaired and returned to service), there will be a period of perhaps two to six years during which the United States will have no operational heavy polar icebreakers. The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Administration’s plans for sustaining and modernizing the polar icebreaking fleet.”