“Action Alert: Tell the House to fund the Icebreaker! ” –Navy League

I am passing this along from the Navy League. The Senate has completed their mark up of the Coast Guard Authorization, and it looks like they have indeed left off funding for the new Polar Icebreaker (Polar Security Cutter). We really should have funded these a decade ago, so any delay is at the very least unwise if not irresponsible. 


This is the week to make an impact. Our staff here at Navy League headquarters is busy asking members of Congress to support a vital mission in the Arctic, but we won’t succeed without you. Congressional staff are negotiating the details of a bill to fund the Coast Guard for Fiscal Year 2019 as we write this. The administration requested $750 million for icebreaker procurement in FY19, and the Senate included the money in its funding bill, but the House stripped it out.

Increased activity in the Arctic means we need a strong American presence. Our only operational heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, is 42 years old, operating 12 years beyond its expected lifespan. The Polar Star reaches the end of its operational life in 2023, just as there is expected to be an increase in activity, including the opening of new shipping lanes, the presence of cruise ships, and an increase in exploring Arctic oil and gas reserves.

Our competitors, including Russia and China, are investing heavily in their own Arctic presence: Russia has over 40 icebreakers, some of which are armed. We must ensure the new Polar Security Cutter heavy icebreaker is delivered by 2023 or we risk being excluded from this important region. A Department of Homeland Security mission needs statement and Coast Guard studies have shown that the right number for secure American presence is three heavy and three medium icebreakers. We must begin building the fleet with this sensible funding request from Congress that provides enough funding for the first Polar Security Cutter and long-lead materials for the second.

Beyond America’s national security needs demanding an Arctic presence, no fewer than seven government agencies depend on the capability of American icebreakers.

The Coast Guard needs your help to secure these funds. There is significant competition within the Department of Homeland Security budget for other projects, and we need to ensure these funds are protected and fully appropriated — or risk falling even further behind our competitors!

One Team – Mission Focused

Alan Kaplan
National President

                                              Navy League of the United States
2300 Wilson Blvd, Suite 200
Arlington, VA 22201

3 thoughts on ““Action Alert: Tell the House to fund the Icebreaker! ” –Navy League

  1. This is not a very good article from quality point of view (they didn’t even get USCGC Polar Star’s name right), but the message is generally alarming (although I’m not sure if anything has actually changed since the previous articles on the topic):


    Anyway, I found information about other countries’ icebreakers quite amusing – do they use dice to come up with the numbers? If USCGC Healy, one of the biggest and most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers in the world, doesn’t count as a “real icebreaker”, then China has zero icebreakers in service and one under construction (albeit smaller and less powerful than Healy), and Russia has about a dozen or so that qualify. Furthermore, the only icebreakers India has seen have been in Alang when Russia got rid of some 1950s and 1960s era polar icebreakers in the 1990s; their polar research vessel program is not yet in the construction stage.


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