US Senators from Great Lakes states are again pushing for second icebreaker on the Great Lakes at least as capable as USCGC Mackinaw. A letter jointly signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH) Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Todd Young (R-IN) has been mailed to the Commandant and the acting Secretary of Department of Homeland Security.
Full text of the letter can be found below:
Dear Director Mulvaney, Acting Secretary Wolf, and Admiral Schultz;
As the Administration works to finalize its FY 2021 budget request to Congress, we urge you to include adequate funding to support the Coast Guard’s acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker.
Icebreaking capacity supports the movement through the Great Lakes of more than 90 million tons of cargo annually. According to a study commissioned by the Lake Carriers’ Association, businesses that depend upon the Great Lakes maritime industry lost over $1 billion in revenues because of delays caused by inadequate icebreaking during the 2018-2019 ice-season. Vessel delays also resulted in the loss of 5,421 jobs dependent upon the efficient delivery of cargo throughout the Great Lakes Region.
The Coast Guard is required by law to maintain a heavy icebreaking capability on the Great Lakes to keep our region’s ports and harbors open and facilitate our nation’s free flow of commerce. However, the current maintenance condition of the existing icebreaking fleet has resulted in 182 lost operating days last winter primarily due to engine failures. To this end, Congress has authorized the Coast Guard to acquire a new Great Lakes icebreaker at least as capable as the heavy icebreaker the MACKINAW (WLBB-30), and has directed and provided funding for the Coast Guard to establish a major program acquisition office to support the design and procurement of a vessel.
We respectfully request adequate funding for the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker in your FY 2021 budget request. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration of our views.
Their concern is easy to understand. There is no redundancy for the USCGC Mackinaw. If she has a catastrophic failure, it could be disastrous for the economics of the Lakes area. Even with her, shortfalls in capability have cost area a great deal.
We have discussed this before.
- Case for a Second Great Lakes Icebreaker
- “Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Shipping: We need Icebreakers” –MarineLink
- Michigan Senators Push for Another Great Lakes Icebreaker
- New Icebreaker–For the Great Lakes?
- Does Atlantic Fleet Need an Icebreaker Capability?
The Lake Carriers’ Association claims economic loses cost the Federal Government enough in taxes to pay for a new icebreaker in as little as two years.
Thanks to Fred for bringing this to my attention.