Naval News reports, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, answers the question, “..if any of the future-built U.S. Navy warships such as the Littoral Combat Ships, Arleigh Burke destroyers, or Littoral Combat Ships will have hardened and strengthened hulls for Arctic and icy-water Polar operations?”
And the answer was,
“I’m not there yet in terms of armored hulls or turning our [war]ships into icebreakers.”
I really don’t think anyone was suggesting we build DDGs on icebreaker hulls for the Navy, but if there is a need for an armed surface naval presence in the Arctic, it would be nice if Navy ships could at least survive there, if escorted by Coast Guard icebreakers. Certainly the icebreakers are to operate in the Arctic in wartime, they are going to need some protection.
The Navy is apparently still not convinced of the need. There are, of course, other assets the US has, that could take the fight into the Arctic, including aircraft and submarines. I still think the Fleet boundaries are poorly drawn to facilitate operations in the Arctic and the Bering Sea. Since it is still seen as primarily under the control of the Air Force (NorthCom), that may explain, to some extent, the lack of Navy interest.
OMG, at least the CNO didn’t support the goofy idea of slapping a steel band at the waterline and calling it “ice strengthening”. I can’t imagine a worse platform to take north than an LCS. The Burke would develop a huge topside ice load fast, with no steam plant for a melting system. Just say no Navy. Fight from the air and subs.