The Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice around the Russian-flagged tanker Renda 250 miles south of Nome Jan. 6, 2012. The Healy is the Coast Guard’s only currently operating polar icebreaker. The vessels are transiting through ice up to five-feet thick in this area. The 370-foot tanker Renda will have to go through more than 300 miles of sea ice to get to Nome, a city of about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline that did not get its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a massive storm. If the delivery of diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline is not made, the city likely will run short of fuel supplies before another barge delivery can be made in spring. (AP Photo/US Coast Guard – Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis) NY112 (Obviously not directly south of Nome, maybe SW–Chuck)
CIMSEC provides an overview of our current Icebreaker replacement program and why it is necessary. It does seem to look only at the Arctic requirements, only mentioning the Antarctic in passing.
For a more detailed view, I would recommend the latest edition of “Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress” by the Congressional Research Service’s naval expert Ronald O’ Rourke.
Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.