“JUST IN: No Room to Accelerate Icebreaker Program, Coast Guard Chief Says” –National Defense

Photo of a model of Halter Marine’s Polar Security Cutter seen at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition have surfaced. Photo credit Chris Cavas.

National Defense reports,

“The commandant of the Coast Guard dashed hopes Jan. 12 that a much needed new icebreaker will be delivered any sooner than 2025.”

The projected delivery has already slipped a year to May 2025, but the Commandant’s remarks did not sound confident that there will be no further delays.

“The goal right now would be to continue to work with the Navy integrated project office, continue to work with the shipbuilder, finish up the complex detail design [work] and start cutting steel here in ’22,” Schultz said. “If we stay on that track line … I am guardedly optimistic we will take delivery of that ship in ‘25 and be off to the races.”

We are putting a lot on the crew of Polar Sea. They have been having extended yard periods away from home port every year. So far, they have met repeated challenges to keep the old girl running, but we cannot really expect our luck to hold.

“Naval shipyard Tandanor to build new icebreaker for Argentina” –Navy Recognition

Artist rendering of the future icebreaker for Argentinian Navy (Picture source: Argentinian MoD)

Navy Recognition reports, state owned “Tandanor Naval Shipyard will proceed to the construction of a polar ship for the Argentinian Navy.”

“The new polar ship will have a length of 131,5 m, a beam of 23,6 m, and could reach a top speed of 16 knots.”

That is 431’4″ long and 77’5″ of beam.

Argentina is moving to strengthen their claim on territory in Antarctica.

In 2015 they completed repairs on their only icebreaker which had suffered a serious fire in 2007.

In 2019 Argentina contracted for four Offshore Patrol Vessels, three of which were to be ice-strengthened. Two of the ice-strengthened OPVs have already been delivered and the third should be delivered this year.

Argentina’s claim on Antarctica overlaps those of the UK and Chile.

 

Contract Option for Second Polar Security Exercised

DOD reports a contract option for design and construction of the Second Polar Security Cutter has been exercised. Notably this is a Navy contract. Completion expected Sept. 2026.

VT Halter Marine Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi, is awarded a $552,654,757 fixed-price incentive modification to previously awarded contract N00024-16-C-2210 to exercise an option for the detail design and construction of the second Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, Mississippi (61%); Metairie, Louisiana (12%); New Orleans, Louisiana (12%); San Diego, California (4%); Mossville, Illinois (4%); Mobile, Alabama (2%); Boca Raton, Florida (2%); and other locations (3%), and is expected to be completed by September 2026. Fiscal 2021 procurement, construction, and improvement (Coast Guard) funds in the amount of 485,129,919 (80%); fiscal 2020 procurement, construction, and improvement (Coast Guard) funds in the amount of $100,000,000 (17%); and fiscal 2019 procurement, construction, and improvement (Coast Guard) funds in the amount of $20,000,000 (3%) will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention.

“New Royal Canadian Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel Visits Norfolk After Circumnavigating North America” –USNI

HMCS Harry DeWolf in ice (6-8 second exposure)

We have talked about the Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) before (more here). It is, in many ways an Offshore Patrol Vessel, that would seem right at home in the US Coast Guard. In fact, in addition to the six being built for the Royal Canadian Navy, two are being built for the Canadian Coast Guard.

I would not be surprised if the US Coast Guard opts to build something similar. This US Naval Institute News Service story provides a bit more insight into its operations and how it is being used.

The AOPS, like the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), is a VARD design. It is based on the Norwegian Coast Guard Cutter Svalbard, that was capable enough to reach the North Pole on 21 August 2019. Svalbard also completed a scientific mission for the US in the Beuford Sea in 2020, when CGC Healy had a fire in one of its main propulsion motors and was unable to recover data contained in buoys she had deployed earlier.

Most surprising for me were the comments the ship’s use of containers,

At the briefing to press in Norfolk, which was broadcast online, he noted that sea-shipping containers aboard Harry DeWolf, not usually carried on warships, can be used as laboratories for science and researchers studying changes in the Arctic.

Gleason added that at all times the ship will have two containers loaded for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to respond to emergencies when called upon.

Gleason said early on there was a key training scenario of responding in a mass casualty scenario. In it Harry De Wolf  worked with the U.S. and Canadian coast guards and naval vessels in treating and evacuating the injured aboard and taking them ashore.

On this mission to the North, Gleason said the containers had a real-time military mission. They “were used as underwater listening devices” for submarines. “Fortunately, we didn’t find any.”

I suspect the “underwater listening devices” for submarines was the Towed Reelable Active Passive Sonar, TRAPS system, (more here).

“Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, December 7, 2021

 

The Congressional Research Service has once again updated their look at the Polar Security Cutter (heavy icebreaker) program. (See the latest version here.) My last look at this evolving document was in regard to the October 19, 2021 revision.

The one-page summary, which has not changed, is reproduced below, but first I will point out what appears to have changed since the October 19 edition.


From page 13 re program delays (This is based on the report discussed here)

An October 19, 2021, press report stated

Delivery of the first new Coast Guard heavy polar icebreaker has slipped a year to 2025 due to the fact that it’s been 45 years since the last heavy icebreaker was built in the U.S. and impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, Adm. Karl Schultz, the service’s commandant, said on Tuesday [October 19].

The first Polar Security Cutter (PSC) is expected to be delivered in the third quarter of fiscal year 2025, Schultz told a Senate Commerce Committee panel that oversees the Coast Guard. The PSC was originally expected to be delivered in March of 2024, which is in the second quarter of FY ’24. That timeline was later revised to May 2024, which is the third quarter….

Schultz said that COVID “complications” have hampered “international collaboration” on PSC ship construction, noting that the program is ambitious and “on a compressed timeline.”

A Coast Guard spokesman told Defense Daily in an email reply to questions that infection rates and travel restrictions due to COVID “significantly affected Halter Marine’s ship design efforts and subcontractor integration, resulting in unavoidable delays. COVID-19 was particularly impactful to HMI’s efforts to hire and maintain staffing levels across multiple occupation categories (labor, management, and engineering) and hindered collaboration with its ship design subcontractors, many of whom are based internationally and were significantly affected by early COVID-19 restrictions.”

The spokesman added that “The Coast Guard and Navy Integrated Program Office recently negotiated a consolidated contract action that definitizes COVID-19 delays and rebaselines the delivery schedule by 12 months.” Still, the program remains on track to begin operations in 2027 with Operation Deep Freeze, he said.

From pages 29 and 30, re a Great Lakes Icebreaker and a Forth PSC

Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376)
House
Section 110023 of H.R. 5376 as passed by the House on November 19, 2021, states
SEC. 110023. GREAT LAKES ICEBREAKER ACQUISITION.

In addition to amounts otherwise available, there is appropriated for fiscal year 2022, out of funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $350,000,000, to remain available until September, 30, 2031, to the Coast Guard, for acquisition, design, and construction of a Great Lakes heavy icebreaker, as authorized under section 8107 of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (P.L. 116-283).50 The Coast Guard shall return to the Treasury any funds appropriated under this section that have not been expended by September 30, 2031.

Section 10024 of H.R. 5376 as passed by the House states
SEC. 110024. POLAR SECURITY CUTTERS AND CLIMATE SCIENCE.

In addition to amounts otherwise available, there is appropriated for fiscal year 2022, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $788,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2031, to the Coast Guard, for the acquisition of the fourth heavy Polar Security Cutter, including scientific laboratory and berthing facilities, to expand access for scientists to the polar regions, to improve climate and weather research, for other polar missions, and for other purposes, as authorized under section 561 of title 14, United States Code.


Summary (Note no change from previous edition-Chuck)

The Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) program is a program to acquire three new PSCs (i.e., heavy polar icebreakers), to be followed years from now by the acquisition of up to three new Arctic Security Cutters (ASCs) (i.e., medium polar icebreakers). The PSC program has received a total of $1,754.6 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion) in procurement funding through FY2021, including $300 million that was provided through the Navy’s shipbuilding account in FY2017 and FY2018. With the funding the program has received through FY2021, the first two PSCs are now fully funded.

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $170.0 million in procurement funding for the PSC program, which would be used for, among other things, procuring long leadtime materials (LLTM) for the third PSC.

The Navy and Coast Guard in 2020 estimated the total procurement costs of the PSCs in then year dollars as $1,038 million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) for the first ship, $794 million for the second ship, and $841 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated cost of $2,673 million (i.e., about $2.7 billion). Within those figures, the shipbuilder’s portion of the total procurement cost is $746 million for the first ship, $544 million for the second ship, and $535 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated shipbuilder’s cost of $1,825 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion).

On April 23, 2019, the Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office for the PSC program awarded a $745.9 million fixed-price, incentive-firm contract for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the first PSC to VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. VT Halter was the leader of one of three industry teams that competed for the DD&C contract. The first PSC is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and be delivered in 2024, though the DD&C contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

The DD&C contract includes options for building the second and third PSCs. If these options are exercised, the total value of the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9 billion). The figures of $745.9 million and $1,942.8 million cover only the shipbuilder’s costs; they do not include the cost of government-furnished equipment (GFE), which is equipment for the ships that the government purchases and then provides to the shipbuilder for incorporation into the ship, post-delivery costs, costs for Navy-specific equipment, or government program-management costs.

The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently consists of one heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and one medium polar icebreaker, Healy. In addition to Polar Star, the Coast Guard has a second heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Sea. Polar Sea, however, suffered an engine casualty in June 2010 and has been nonoperational since then. Polar Star and Polar Sea entered service in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and are now well beyond their originally intended 30-year service lives. The Coast Guard plans to extend the service life of Polar Star until the delivery of at least the second PSC. The Coast Guard is using Polar Sea as a source of spare parts for keeping Polar Star operational

“WEB EXCLUSIVE: Q&A With Adm. Karl Schultz, Commandant of the Coast Guard” –National Defense

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jetta Disco.

National Defense has an interview with the Commandant. There is a lot of discussion about COVID and how the Coast Guard has adapted to the reality of annual continuing resolutions (CR).

There is a good deal of discussion here about icebreakers. Polar Security Cutter construction is the program most effected by COVID and the first of class is now not expected until 2025. The Commandant actually wants more than six icebreakers, perhaps as many as nine, including some for the Atlantic side, more than three PSCs, and (for the first time I have heard this) we are also looking at something less than a medium icebreaker.

 “I’ve been having a conversation for most of my tenure that we really need a minimum of six icebreakers. Of that six, three will be Polar Security Cutters. We’ll have a hot production line, I hope that conversations is really about more than three Polar Security Cutters, but we’re also talking about maybe something a little less than a medium icebreaker. We’ve done some work at the behest of the last National Security Council in the Trump administration that has played forward for this administration. They seem very interested. So, I think we’re having the right conversations about a fleet of maybe six or nine that can work in the high latitudes both the High North and down in Antarctica.”

There was brief discussion of armament for the icebreakers. The Commandant noted that the PSC design included space, weight and power for upgrades (type unspecified), but no intention to make those upgrades now. There was no mention of Antarctica in that discussion.

There is a discussion about the Coast Guard in the Western Pacific in regard to both the Webber class FRCs and deployment of National Security Cutters to the far Western Pacific.

The interviewer seemed to be pushing the Commandant to acknowledge that the hardware elements of the Deepwater program were essentially complete. The Commandant’s response was more muted, noting that the Offshore Patrol Cutters are the “backbone” of the recapitalization and that program has essentially only just begun.

There was only one question that mentioned unmanned systems and the Commandant’s response made no mention of them. There was also no discussion of replacement of the H-65s with H-60s.

Polar Star to Depart for Antarctica Saturday, Nov. 13 –News Release

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star cuts through Antarctic ice in the Ross Sea near a large group of seals as the ship’s crew creates a navigation channel for supply ships, January 16, 2017. The resupply channel is an essential part of the yearly delivery of essential supplies to the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station.US Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley

united states coast guard

Media Advisory U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest

MEDIA ADVISORY: America’s only heavy icebreaker departs Seattle homeport Saturday; bound for Antarctica

Nation's only heavy icebreaker reaches fast ice of Antarctica

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

Who: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10) with crew and numerous scientists

What: Departing Seattle, en route to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze

When: Departing 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021

Where: U.S. Coast Guard Base Seattle

SEATTLE — The United States’ only heavy icebreaker, Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10), is scheduled to depart its homeport in Seattle Saturday.

This annual journey to Antarctica is conducted in support of Operation Deep Freeze, a joint military service mission to resupply the United States Antarctic stations of the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program.

The women and men aboard the Polar Star conduct this essential mission to create a navigable path through ice as thick as 21 feet, to allow refuel and resupply ships to reach McMurdo Station, the largest Antarctic station and the logistics hub of the U.S. Antarctic Program.

The U.S. Coast Guard is recapitalizing its polar icebreaker fleet to ensure access to the Polar Regions, project U.S. sovereignty, and to protect the country’s economic, environmental and national security interests. To support this endeavor, the U.S. Coast Guard is exploring options to expand Base Seattle infrastructure to support the growing icebreaker fleet.

Media are encouraged to contact Coast Guard public affairs at 206-251-3237 to arrange an escort at Base Seattle to attend the ship’s departure. The commanding officer of the Polar Star, Capt. Willaim Woityra, may be available for virtual interview on Friday morning and in-person at 11 a.m. Saturday prior to the 1 p.m. departure.

“Royal Canadian Navy ship completes Northwest Passage journey for first time since 1954” –CBCNEWS

HMCS Harry DeWolf

CBCNews reports that the Canadian Navy Artic and Offshore Patrol Ship HMCS Harry DeWolf has completed its East to West transit of the Northwest Passage as part of a planned circumnavigation of North America.

For the first time since 1954, a Royal Canadian Navy ship has completed the journey through the Northwest Passage.

“It was the longest time a Canadian navy ship has operated in the Arctic in consecutive days in more than 50 years,” said Cmdr. Corey Gleason, commanding officer of HMCS Harry DeWolf.

USCGC Healy is also conducting a similar circumnavigation of North America, but moving clockwise, while the Canadian vessel is moving counter-clockwise. If they get together, they should have some interesting stories to exchange.

I would think the Canadian experience with this class is also informing the Coast Guard’s acquisition process for the “Arctic Security Cutter,” our planned medium icebreaker.

There is also this D17 report of her PassEx with USCGC Kimball near Dutch Harbor.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska

U.S. Coast Guard Kimball, Royal Canadian Navy crews conduct joint exercise near Dutch Harbor

Harry DeWolfe

The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew and a Royal Canadian Navy crew, aboard the military vessel Harry DeWolf, transit alongside one another off the coast of Dutch Harbor, on Sept. 23, 2021. The crews exchanged radio communications after rendering honors along the ship railings. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

JUNEAU, Alaska – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) crews conducted a joint exercise off the coast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Sept. 23, 2021.

The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew and an RCN crew, aboard the military vessel Harry DeWolf, operated alongside one another to exchange radio communications after both crews lined their respective ship’s port railings to properly salute in formation, rendering honors.

The joint exercise was a significant opportunity that allowed the crews to demonstrate international operability and reaffirms the longstanding relationship between the U.S. and Canada. The mutually beneficial alliance between the two Arctic nations continues to contribute to maritime security in this increasingly critical region.

“Our exercise with the Harry DeWolf is just the latest in a long history of maintaining a strong bond with our close friend, Canada, as well as our commitment to work with all the Arctic nations,” said Capt. Thomas D’Arcy, the Kimball’s commanding officer. “The maritime partnership between the United States and Canada enhances each nation’s regional stability, while providing mutually beneficial economic opportunities. With the increased importance of the Arctic and activity in the region, our trust and partnership in the maritime domain will promote each nation’s interests and provide opportunities to protect the environment.”

The Coast Guard provides a continuous physical presence in the Bering Sea and throughout Alaska to carry out search and rescue and law enforcement missions and to conduct interagency and international cooperation, building on current regional partnerships.

The Bering Sea, considered the gateway to the Arctic, encompasses 900,000 square miles of the U.S. exclusive zone off the Alaskan coast. The joint operations conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy bolster the ability to operate in this critical region at a time when the Arctic is becoming increasingly accessible.

The Kimball, homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii, is one of the Coast Guard’s newer 420-foot Legend-class National Security Cutters and boasts a wide array of modern capabilities helping the crew to complete their varied missions.

“Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” –CRS, September 15, 2021

Photo of a model of Halter Marine’s Polar Security Cutter seen at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition have surfaced. Photo credit Chris Cavas.

The Congressional Research Service has once again updated their look at the Polar Security Cutter (heavy icebreaker) program. (See the latest version here.) My last look at this evolving document was in regard to the August 31, 2021 revision.

I will reproduce the one page summary below but first I will point out what appears to be new. From page 29-32:


FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350)

House

Section 5301 of H.R. 4350 as reported by the House Armed Services Committee (H.Rept. 117-118 of September 10, 2021) states:

SEC. 5301. GREAT LAKES WINTER SHIPPING.

(a) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the ‘‘Great Lakes Winter Shipping Act
of 2021’’.

(b) GREAT LAKES ICEBREAKING OPERATIONS.—

(1) GAO REPORT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report on Coast Guard icebreaking in the Great Lakes.

(B) ELEMENTS.—The report required under subparagraph (A) shall—

(i) evaluate—

(I) the economic impact related to vessel delays or cancellations associated with ice
coverage on the Great Lakes;

(II) the impact the standards proposed in paragraph (2) would have on Coast Guard operations in the Great Lakes if such standards were adopted;

(III) the fleet mix of medium ice breakers and icebreaking tugs necessary to meet the standards proposed in paragraph (2); and

(IV) the resources necessary to support the fleet described in subclause (III), including
billets for crew and operating costs; and

(ii) make recommendations to the Commandant for improvements to the Great Lakes icebreaking program, including with respect to facilitating shipping and meeting all Coast Guard mission needs.

(2) PROPOSED STANDARDS FOR ICEBREAKING OPERATIONS.—The proposed standards, the impact of the adoption of which is evaluated in subclauses (II) and (III) of paragraph (1)(B)(i), are the following:

(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), that ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes shall be open to navigation not less than 90 percent of the hours that vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways.

(B) In a year in which the Great Lakes are not open to navigation as described in subparagraph (A) because of ice of a thickness that occurs on average only once every 10 years, ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes shall be open to navigation at least 70 percent of the hours that vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries attempt to transit such ice-covered waterways.

(3) REPORT BY COMMANDANT.—Not later than 90 days after the date on which the Comptroller General submits the report under paragraph (1), the Commandant shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report that includes the following:

(A) A plan for Coast Guard implementation of any recommendation made by the Comptroller General under paragraph (1)(B)(ii) with which the Commandant concurs.

(B) With respect to any recommendation made under paragraph (1)(B)(ii) with which the Commandant does not concur, an explanation of the reasons why the Commandant does not concur.

(C) A review of, and a proposed implementation plan for, the results of the fleet mix
analysis under paragraph (1)(B)(i)(III).

(D) Any proposed modifications to current Coast Guard Standards for icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes.

(4) PILOT PROGRAM.—During the 5 ice seasons following the date of enactment of this Act, the Coast Guard shall conduct a pilot program to determine the extent to which the current Coast Guard Great Lakes icebreaking cutter fleet can meet the proposed standards described in paragraph (2).

(c) DATA ON ICEBREAKING OPERATIONS IN THE GREAT LAKES.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commandant shall collect, during ice season, archive, and
disseminate data on icebreaking operations and transits on ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes of vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries.

(2) ELEMENTS.—Data collected, archived, and disseminated under paragraph (1) shall
include the following:

(A) Voyages by vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries to transit ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes that are delayed or cancelled because of the nonavailability of a suitable icebreaking vessel.

(B) Voyages attempted by vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries to transit ice covered waterways in the Great Lakes that do not reach their intended destination because of the nonavailability of a suitable icebreaking vessel.

(C) The period of time that each vessel engaged in commercial service or ferry was delayed in getting underway or during a transit of ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes due to the nonavailability of a suitable icebreaking vessel.

(D) The period of time elapsed between each request for icebreaking assistance by a vessel engaged in commercial service or ferry and the arrival of a suitable icebreaking vessel and whether such icebreaking vessel was a Coast Guard or commercial asset.

(E) The percentage of hours that Great Lakes ice-covered waterways were open to
navigation, as defined by this section, while vessels engaged in commercial service and
ferries at tempted to transit such waterways for each ice season after the date of enactment of this section.

(F) Relevant communications of each vessel engaged in commercial service or ferry with the Coast Guard or commercial icebreaking service providers with respect to
subparagraphs(A) through (D).

(G) A description of any mitigating circumstance, such as Coast Guard Great Lakes
icebreaker diversions to higher priority missions, that may have contributed to the amount of time described in subparagraphs (C) and (D) or the percentage of time described in subparagraph (E).

(3) VOLUNTARY REPORTING.—Any reporting by operators of commercial vessels
engaged in commercial service or ferries under this Act shall be voluntary.

(4) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—The Commandant shall make the data collected, archived
and disseminated under this subsection available to the public on a publicly accessible
internet website of the Coast Guard.

(5) CONSULTATION WITH INDUSTRY.—With respect to the Great Lakes icebreaking operations of the Coast Guard and the development of the data collected, archived, and disseminated under this subsection, the Commandant shall consult operators of vessel engaged in commercial service and ferries.

(6) DEFINITIONS.—In this subsection:

(A) VESSEL.—The term ‘‘vessel’’ has the meaning given such term in section 3 of title 1, United States Code.

(B) COMMERCIAL SERVICE.—The term ‘‘commercial service’’ has the meaning given
such term in section 2101(4) of title 46, United States Code.

(C) GREAT LAKES.—The term ‘‘Great Lakes’’—

(i) has the meaning given such term in section 118 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1268); and

(ii) includes harbors adjacent to such waters.

(D) ICE-COVERED WATERWAY.—The term ‘ice-covered waterway’’ means any portion of the Great Lakes, as defined by subparagraph (C), in which vessels engaged in commercial service or ferries operate that is 70 percent or greater covered by ice, but does not include any waters adjacent to piers or docks for which commercial icebreaking services are available and adequate for the ice conditions.

(E) OPEN TO NAVIGATION.—The term ‘‘open to navigation’’ means navigable to the extent necessary to meet the reasonable demands of shipping, minimize delays to passenger ferries, extricate vessels and persons from danger, prevent damage due to flooding, and conduct other Coast Guard missions as required.

(F) REASONABLE DEMANDS OF SHIPPING.—The term ‘‘reasonable demands of shipping’’ means the safe movement of vessels engaged in commercial service and ferries transiting ice-covered waterways in the Great Lakes to their intended destination,
regardless of type of cargo.

(d) GREAT LAKES ICEBREAKER ACQUISITION.—Of the amounts authorized to be
appropriated under section 4902(2)(A)(ii) of title 14, United States Code—

(1) for fiscal year 2022, $350,000,000 shall be made available to the Commandant for the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker at least as capable as Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB–30); and

(2) for fiscal year 2023, $20,000,000 shall be made available to the Commandant for the design and selection of icebreaking cutters for operation in the Great Lakes, the Northeastern United States, and the Arctic, as appropriate, that are at least as capable as the Coast Guard 140-foot icebreaking tugs.

(e) PROHIBITION ON CONTRACT OR USE OF FUNDS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF COMMON HULL DESIGN.—Section 8105 of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116–283) is amended by striking subsection (b) and inserting the following:

‘‘(b) REPORT.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Commandant shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representative a report on the operational benefits and limitations of a common hull design for icebreaking cutters for operation in the Great Lakes, the Northeastern United States, and the Arctic, as appropriate, that are at least as capable as the Coast Guard 140-foot icebreaking tugs.’’.

H.Rept. 117-118 states:

Report on Need for Additional Ice Breakers in the Great Lakes Region

The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees by March 1, 2022 on whether additional ice breaking vessels are  necessary in the Great Lakes region. The report must include an analysis on the necessity for ice breaking vessels in the St. Clair River. (Page 223)


Summary
The Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) program is a program to acquire three new PSCs (i.e., heavy polar icebreakers), to be followed years from now by the acquisition of up to three new Arctic Security Cutters (ASCs) (i.e., medium polar icebreakers). The PSC program has received a total of $1,754.6 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion) in procurement funding through FY2021, including $300 million that was provided through the Navy’s shipbuilding account in FY2017 and FY2018. With the funding the program has received through FY2021, the first two PSCs are now fully funded.

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $170.0 million in procurement funding for the PSC program, which would be used for, among other things, procuring long leadtime materials (LLTM) for the third PSC.

The Navy and Coast Guard in 2020 estimated the total procurement costs of the PSCs in then year dollars as $1,038 million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) for the first ship, $794 million for the second ship, and $841 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated cost of $2,673 million (i.e., about $2.7 billion). Within those figures, the shipbuilder’s portion of the total procurement cost is $746 million for the first ship, $544 million for the second ship, and $535 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated shipbuilder’s cost of $1,825 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion).

On April 23, 2019, the Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office for the PSC program awarded a $745.9 million fixed-price, incentive-firm contract for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the first PSC to VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. VT Halter was the leader of one of three industry teams that competed for the DD&C contract. The first PSC is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and be delivered in 2024, though the DD&C contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

The DD&C contract includes options for building the second and third PSCs. If these options are exercised, the total value of the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9 billion). The figures of $745.9 million and $1,942.8 million cover only the shipbuilder’s costs; they do not include the cost of government-furnished equipment (GFE), which is equipment for the ships that the government purchases and then provides to the shipbuilder for incorporation into the ship, post-delivery costs, costs for Navy-specific equipment, or government program-management costs.

The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently consists of one heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and one medium polar icebreaker, Healy. In addition to Polar Star, the Coast Guard has a second heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Sea. Polar Sea, however, suffered an engine casualty in June 2010 and has been nonoperational since then. Polar Star and Polar Sea entered service in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and are now well beyond their originally intended 30-year service lives. The Coast Guard plans to extend the service life of Polar Star until the delivery of at least the second PSC. The Coast Guard is using Polar Sea as a source of spare parts for keeping Polar Star operational