Coast Guard Releases Request For Information For Polar Star Service Life Extension Project

The following is a quotation in full of a post from the Acquisition Directorate (CG-9)

Coast Guard Releases Request For Information For Polar Star Service Life Extension Project

July 19, 2018

The Coast Guard released a request for information (RFI) July 18 to gather market research for the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star service life extension project (SLEP) as part of the In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program (ISVS). The SLEP effort will recapitalize a number of major systems – including machinery control and propulsion power distribution systems – and extend the service life of the cutter by four years. The work will include a six-month long lead time material procurement and detailed design phase, followed by a minimum of three annual repair execution phases between 2021 and 2024.

The RFI is available here.

Polar Star, the Coast Guard’s only active heavy icebreaker, was commissioned in 1976. The 399-foot ship is currently responsible for nine of the 11 Coast Guard statutory missions. Each winter, the cutter travels to McMurdo Station in Antarctica as part of Operation Deep Freeze, which supports the National Science Foundation-managed U.S. Antarctic Program.

“The SLEP for Polar Star is essential to maintain year-round access to the polar regions until new heavy polar icebreakers are delivered,” said Ken King, program manager for the ISVS program. “The challenge for this program will be to balance phased SLEP work with continued Polar Star operational deployments.”

The deadline to submit responses is Aug. 3, 2018 at 4 p.m. EDT.

For more information: In-Service Vessel Sustainment program page  

37 thoughts on “Coast Guard Releases Request For Information For Polar Star Service Life Extension Project

    • No, this is just trying to keep Polar Star going until the second Heavy Polar Icebreaker is completed.

      They are planning on doing in three phases, so work will be done over the Northern Hemisphere summer and they will continue going South during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter.

      There are probably only two shipyards on the West Coast capable of doing this work, one in San Diego and one in the Seattle area. Obviously the crew would want to stay in the Seattle area.

  1. Knowing how fragile some of the components of the Polar class seemed when new, I wonder if the Polar Star will survive long enough to complete the service life extension.

      • USCG’s Polar-class icebreakers were essentially built around their unique CODLOG power plants that had not been used in icebreakers before and have not been used in icebreaker since. The only way to keep the Polar Star operational is to breathe life to its existing systems using salvaged parts from the Polar Sea.

        If I was forced to come up with a modernization plan for the Polar class, I’d forget the gas turbines and recommission them as medium icebreakers with fully diesel-electric power plant and fixed pitch propellers. I can’t think of an economically feasible way of retaining the original power-to-weight ratio which remains unrivaled among icebreaking vessels.

  2. @ WB Young.

    The Flight IV “Arleigh Burke’s” were intended to be Replacements for the “Ticonderoga” class Cruiser. In 2014, the class was Cancelled and Funding was redirected to the Replacement of the “Ohio” class SSBN’s, the “Columbia” class SSBN’s…

    ( https://news.usni.org/2014/07/14/navy-cancelled-new-destroyer-flight-due-ohio-replacement-submarine-costs )

    ( https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/surface-navy-association/2018/01/09/surface-warfare-director-cruiser-replacement-wont-be-a-cruiser/ ) …

  3. You know “Chuck” this is my THIRD Redaction in the Last 20-minutes, trying to answer someone’s question. And I getting Sick And Tired Of It…

      • But I’ve done “Links” before without any “Hold for Moderation” incidents. Why now and not then…

      • I don’t know, something in the WordPress security system. When it happens I get an email asking me to moderate. A lot of spam just goes directly to the spam folder, but yours like a lot of others got flagged for moderation.

      • The WordPress spam catcher (Akismet) works on both content and link count. I also have all comments held for Moderation since some vendors will try and sneak ads in for their maritime businesses, the Moderation stops all of that. But I don’t have the comment count and the sometimes freewheeling comments that Chuck’s site has.

  4. “a six-month long lead time material procurement and detailed design phase, followed by a minimum of three annual repair execution phases between 2021 and 2024”.

    When was she scheduled to leave service? How many years do they expect to squeeze out of her after 2024?

    • My understanding was that her decommissioning would coincide with the commissioning of the new heavy polar icebreaker in 2023-2024.

      • I think the hope is to keep her around until the second Heavy Polar Icebreaker is fully operational. We want to avoid the possibility of an icebreaker breaking down in Antarctica with no backup.

        I do think there is a high probability Polar Star will not last that long.

      • So exactly where do that put the “Healy”, in the Great Scope of Things”…

      • Secundius, by Coast Guard standards Healey is a medium icebreaker. Her working season is the northern hemisphere summer, while Polar Star’s working season is the southern hemisphere summer so Healey would be unlikely to be able to rescue Polar Star if she had a breakdown in Antarctica. Ultimately I think the intention is to have a Heavy in the northern hemisphere in the winter, and at least some icebreaker north year round. Plus probably an icebreaker on standby rotation year round in Seattle.

      • It is not based on tonnage, it is based on horsepower, with the idea that that determines continuous icebreaking ability. It is a flawed criteria.

      • Healy is the world’s fifth most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker (or probably fourth in these days, as I’ve heard rumors that Ermak can’t summon full 36,000 shp from her nine diesel engines anymore). However, depending on when the Russians manage to finish their new 25-megawatt icebreaker, she may be bumped down to fifth again by the end of this year.

        From what I’ve heard, Healy can’t be relied on for Deep Freeze on her own due to her medium icebreaker status, but if the Polar Star broke down in Antarctica, I’m fairly sure she’d be sent to the rescue (and she would be able to tow the older icebreaker to ice edge from where it could be towed back to Seattle). After all, what else could get down there for an USCG mission?

        Of course, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Even if it had a positive impact on future icebreaker acquisition programs (“this is why we said we needed new ones”), it’d be hell for the crew. That’s 1970s ship is not made for comfort even when it works…

      • I heard the the Icebreaker/Tug “MV Aivig” is being considered as a Stop-Gap Vessel by the US Hse.of Rep. But “modifications” would probably be required to meet USCG standards…

      • Based on what I’ve heard, it appears as of no-one really wants the Aiviq. Not the USCG nor the CCG.

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