“‘Great News’ For Great Lakes as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Approves $1 Billion for U.S. Coast Guard Infrastructure, Heavy Icebreaker” –gCaptain

Launch of USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) on April 2, 2005. Photo by Peter J. Markham.

gCaptain reports,

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday approved $1 billion for U.S. Coast Guard shore side infrastructure nationwide and $350 million for a heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes.

The funds were approved as part of its budget reconciliation bill, an action that the Great Lake Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) called “great news for the Great Lakes.”

Its probably too early to assume this will actually happen, but so far, so good, particularly with regard to the infrastructure portion.

As for the Icebreaker, what it is talking about is an icebreaker at least as capable a USCGC Mackinaw. What we might get is a second Mackinaw, but we could do better. This might be an opportunity to prototype the Arctic Security Cutter.

The Great Lakes contingent in Congress don’t seem to want any connection between the “Heavy” (really light) Great Lakes Icebreaker and the Artic Security Cutter, but they would be smart to consider the benefits.

First USCGC Mackinaw was commissioned in 2006. That may look pretty new now, but by the time the new Great Lakes Icebreaker is completed, it will be 20 years old. Looking further down the timeline, it will need to be replaced long before this second Great Lakes breaker. So some time in the future they will, presumably, have to again seek funding for a one-off unique design for the Lakes.

If the Arctic Security Cutter can transit the locks into the Great Lakes, they could supplement icebreaking in the Lakes and provide a ready replacement when the Mackinaw inevitably reaches the end of it life.

Combining the programs would also reduce the average unit price and would probably mean a more capable breaker for the Lakes than might otherwise have been possible.

4 thoughts on ““‘Great News’ For Great Lakes as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Approves $1 Billion for U.S. Coast Guard Infrastructure, Heavy Icebreaker” –gCaptain

  1. Craig Hooper from Next Navy has some thoughts (he’s not a fan of the idea)
    http://nextnavy.com/in-forbes-mike-gallaghers-great-lakes-push-is-a-breaker-too-far/
    And his longer article in Forbes
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/craighooper/2021/09/12/congress-authorizes-a-great-lakes-icebreaker-the-coast-guard-doesnt-need/?sh=5060ce792b78
    He’s very much in favor of the $20 Million directed toward the design and selection of the Bay-class WTGB replacements. But feels local/state level investment would be a more appropriate response to the occasional additional ice breaking demand at this time. He feels the money would be better spent on a class of “multi-purpose, open-ocean medium icebreaker”, one of which could be tasked to seasonally support the Great Lakes mission (certainly sounds like that “Arctic Security Cutter”)

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