We send our only Heavy Icebreaker almost 20,000 miles, to the end of the earth with no back-up.
Take a look at this news release regarding an upcoming award ceremony where the Commandant will recognize Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Oakes, Petty Officer 3rd Class Augustin Foguet, and Seaman Manon Mullen.
They had to repair a thrust bearing bracket. This is a really strong fitting designed to absorb the push of 25,000 HP and it broke.
EM1 Oakes fixed a generator, apparently a main propulsion generator, that had developed a short that resulted in loss of with a surfboard repair kit.
They had ” three fires and one major lube oil leak, which can quickly ignite into fire.”
We are blessed with excellent enlisted people, who do extraordinary things, but we cannot keep doing this. It is only a matter of time until one of our two icebreakers suffers a catastrophic failure far from any assistance.
We are still close to ten years from a new heavy icebreaker, but while it will hopefully give us a more reliable replacement for the Polar Star, it will not fix the problem.
We have a acknowledged need for medium icebreakers. The Congress seems to recognize our lack of icebreakers as a problem, and there are relatively near term alternatives available in the shape of an icebreaker now excess to Shell’s requirements and another begun and well advanced in construction, which is now stopped.
Wouldn’t it be better to send two ships south?