“Coast Guard is Refining FY 2021 Funding Pitch” –USNI

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

The US Naval Institute news service based on comments by Vice Commandant Charles Ray, during the 2020 Surface Navy Association Symposium, reports that the Coast Guard is putting more emphasis on addressing long standing short falls in shore-side facilities. They are also attempting to improve communications with particular reference to communications in the Arctic.

The Arctic comms issue definitely caught the eye of commenters. Don’t overlook the comments.

2 thoughts on ““Coast Guard is Refining FY 2021 Funding Pitch” –USNI

  1. A few notes on the Healy picture.

    The ship was at the end of a long deployment with the crew looking forward to being home for Christmas when they were told to turn around for the Nome delivery. The Healy is Medium Ice Breaker and the ice was right at the operational limits of the vessel so they were in danger of getting stuck and we did not have another Breaker that could have came to it’s help in case of a problem.

    I was told off the record that the Healy had a woman commander (well respected) and that the Russian captain was a class A jerk and did not want to work with a woman so the job took longer and was more difficult.

    But hats off to the Healy and it’s crew for a job well done in very difficult conditions!!

    • I once thought the 2012 mission off Nome was a clear indication of USCG’s lack of preparedness for escort operations (which, contrary to popular belief, are fairly rare in the US Arctic waters) and that the current USCG seagoing icebreakers are not really up for the task particularly in terms of vessel design. However, considering that USCGC Healy was operating at the limit of its icebreaking capability in 5′ pack ice, it is much more understandable that the medium icebreaker was struggling.

      While I can think of technical solutions and vessel configurations that would allow safe close towing (i.e. bow of the escorted vessel pulled against a towing notch of the icebreaker) even in such “limit conditions”, it’s quite likely that “traditional icebreakers” would not attempt it when operating close to maximum capacity. No one wants to get the only icebreaker in the region stuck between an ice ridge and the escorted ship that cannot reverse…

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