Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues for Congress




Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar
Icebreaker) Program: Background and Issues
for Congress

Updated January 6, 2022
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
RL34391




Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program

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 Halter Marine Inc. (formerly VT Halter Marine) of
Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. Halter Marine
was the leader of one of three industry teams that competed for the DD&C contract. On
December 29, 2021, the Coast Guard exercised a $552.7 million fixed price incentive option to its
contract with Halter Marine Inc. for the second PSC.
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.


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Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Background ..................................................................................................................................... 1

Missions of U.S. Polar Icebreakers ........................................................................................... 1
Statutory Duties and Missions ............................................................................................ 1
Multiple Missions (Not Just Icebreaking) ........................................................................... 2
Polar (Not Just Arctic) Operations ...................................................................................... 2

Current U.S. Polar Icebreakers .................................................................................................. 3
Required Numbers of U.S. Polar/Arctic Icebreakers ................................................................ 4
At Least Six Ships, Including Three Capable of Breaking Heavy Polar Ice ...................... 4
June 9, 2020, Presidential Memorandum Concerning Polar Icebreakers ........................... 4
Additional Background Information ................................................................................... 5
Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) Program .................................................................. 5
Overview ............................................................................................................................. 5
Program Name .................................................................................................................... 5
Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office (IPO) ......................................................... 5
Parent Design Approach ..................................................................................................... 5
Program Schedule ............................................................................................................... 5
Procurement Cost ................................................................................................................ 5
Program Funding ................................................................................................................ 6
Contract Award ................................................................................................................... 6
Ship Design ......................................................................................................................... 7
Home Port ......................................................................................................................... 12
FY2022 Funding Request ................................................................................................. 12

Service Life Extension for Polar Star ..................................................................................... 12
Issues for Congress ........................................................................................................................ 12
FY2022 Funding ..................................................................................................................... 12
Potential Impact of COVID-19 Situation ................................................................................ 13
Delay in Construction Start on First PSC................................................................................ 13
Technical, Schedule, and Cost Risk for PSC Program ............................................................ 14
Parent Design and PSC Design ......................................................................................... 14
February 2020 GAO Testimony ........................................................................................ 15
Contract with Options vs. Block Buy Contract ....................................................................... 16
Common Design for Heavy and Medium Polar Icebreakers .................................................. 19
Funding Coast Guard Polar Icebreakers through Navy’s Shipbuilding Account .................... 22
Building Polar Icebreakers in Foreign Shipyards ................................................................... 24
Overview ........................................................................................................................... 24
Laws Relating to Building Ships in Foreign Shipyards .................................................... 25
October 2017 Press Report ............................................................................................... 26
July 10, 2020, Remarks by President Trump .................................................................... 26
June 9, 2020, Presidential Memorandum Concerning Polar Icebreakers ......................... 27
Funding for Purchasing or Leasing Foreign-Built Icebreakers ......................................... 28
Legislative Activity for FY2022 .................................................................................................... 28
Summary of Appropriation Action on FY2022 Funding Request ........................................... 28
FY2022 DHS Appropriations Act (H.R. 4431/S. XXXX) ...................................................... 28

House ................................................................................................................................ 28
Senate ................................................................................................................................ 29
FY2022 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R 4432) ....................................................................... 29
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House ................................................................................................................................ 29
Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) ......................................................................................... 30
House ................................................................................................................................ 30
FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350/S. 1605 /P.L. 117-81) ................... 30
House ................................................................................................................................ 30
Enacted .............................................................................................................................. 33
Arctic Focus Act (S. 3272) ...................................................................................................... 34
Senate ................................................................................................................................ 34

Figures
Figure 1. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC ................................................................... 8
Figure 2. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC ................................................................... 8
Figure 3. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC ................................................................... 9
Figure 4. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC ................................................................... 9
Figure 5. Rendering of SDC Concept Design for Polarstern II .................................................... 10

Figure A-1. Polar Star and Polar Sea ........................................................................................... 36
Figure A-2. Polar Sea .................................................................................................................... 37
Figure A-3. Healy .......................................................................................................................... 38
Figure A-4. Nathaniel B. Palmer ................................................................................................... 39
Figure A-5. Laurence M. Gould .................................................................................................... 40
Figure A-6. Sikuliaq ...................................................................................................................... 41
Figure C-1. Great Lakes Icebreaker Mackinaw ............................................................................. 64

Tables
Table 1. Estimated PSC Procurement Costs .................................................................................... 6
Table 2. Summary of Congressional Appropriations Action on FY2022 Procurement
Funding Request ......................................................................................................................... 28

Table A-1. Coast Guard and NSF Polar Ships ............................................................................... 42
Table B-1. Major Icebreakers of the World as of May 1, 2017 ..................................................... 50

Appendixes
Appendix A. Current U.S. Polar Icebreakers and Polar Research Ships ....................................... 36
Appendix B. Required Numbers of U.S. Polar Icebreakers .......................................................... 43
Appendix C. Great Lakes Icebreakers ........................................................................................... 64

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 67
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Introduction
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the Polar Security Cutter
(PSC) program—the Coast Guard’s program for acquiring new PSCs (i.e., heavy polar
icebreakers). The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $170.0 million in
procurement funding for the PSC program.
The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Administration’s FY2022
procurement funding request for the PSC program, and, more generally, whether to approve,
reject, or modify the Coast Guard’s overall plan for procuring new polar icebreakers. Congress’s
decisions on this issue could affect Coast Guard funding requirements, the Coast Guard’s ability
to perform its polar missions, and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.
For a brief discussion of the Coast Guard’s Great Lakes icebreakers, see Appendix C. Separate
CRS reports cover acquisition of general-purpose cutters for the Coast Guard1 and waterways
commerce cutters for the Coast Guard.2 Another CRS report provides an overview of various
issues relating to the Arctic.3
Background
Missions of U.S. Polar Icebreakers
Statutory Duties and Missions
The permanent statute that sets forth the Coast Guard’s primary duties—14 U.S.C. 102—states
that among other things, the Coast Guard shall (emphasis added) “develop, establish, maintain,
and operate, with due regard to the requirements of national defense, aids to maritime navigation,
icebreaking facilities, and rescue facilities for the promotion of safety on, under, and over the
high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,” and “pursuant to
international agreements, develop, establish, maintain, and operate icebreaking facilities on,
under, and over waters other than the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United
States.... ”4
In addition, Section 888(a) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (H.R. 5005/P.L. 107-296 of
November 25, 2002)—the law that established the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and
transferred the Coast Guard from the Department of Transportation to DHS—sets forth 11
specific missions for the Coast Guard (often referred to as the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory
missions), including the mission of “ice operations.”5

1 CRS Report R42567, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke.
2 CRS In Focus IF11672, Coast Guard Waterways Commerce Cutter (WCC) Program: Background and Issues for
Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
3 CRS Report R41153, Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, coordinated by Ronald O'Rourke.
4 14 U.S.C. 102(4) and 102(5), respectively. This statute was previously 14 U.S.C. 2; it was renumbered as 14 U.S.C.
102 by Section 103 of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (S. 140/P.L. 115-282 of December
4, 2018). (Title I of P.L. 115-282, consisting of Sections 101-124, specified a general reorganization of Title 14.)
5 The 11 missions set forth in Section 888(a) are marine safety; search and rescue; aids to navigation; living marine
resources (fisheries law enforcement); marine environmental protection; ice operations; ports, waterways and coastal
security; drug interdiction; migrant interdiction; defense readiness; other law enforcement.
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Multiple Missions (Not Just Icebreaking)
The Coast Guard’s polar icebreakers do not simply break ice—they are multimission cutters6 that
conduct a variety of other operations that are conducted in lower-latitude waters by the Coast
Guard’s general-purpose cutters. U.S. polar ice operations conducted in large part by the Coast
Guard’s polar icebreakers support 9 of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions.7 The roles of U.S.
polar icebreakers can be summarized as follows:
 conducting and supporting scientific research in the Arctic and Antarctic;
 defending U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic by helping to maintain a U.S. presence
in U.S. territorial waters in the region;
 defending other U.S. interests in polar regions, including economic interests in
waters that are within the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) north of Alaska;
 monitoring sea traffic in the Arctic, including ships bound for the United States;
and
 conducting other typical Coast Guard missions (such as search and rescue, law
enforcement, and protection of marine resources) in Arctic waters, including U.S.
territorial waters north of Alaska.8
Polar (Not Just Arctic) Operations
The Coast Guard’s large icebreakers are called polar icebreakers rather than Arctic icebreakers
because they perform missions in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Operations to support National
Science Foundation (NSF) research activities in both polar regions account for a significant
portion of U.S. polar icebreaker operations.
Supporting NSF research in the Antarctic focuses on performing an annual mission, called
Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), to break through Antarctic sea ice so as to reach and resupply
McMurdo Station, the large U.S. Antarctic research station located on the shore of McMurdo
Sound, near the Ross Ice Shelf. The Coast Guard states that Polar Star, the Coast Guard’s only
currently operational heavy polar icebreaker, “spends the [northern hemisphere] winter [i.e., the
southern hemisphere summer] breaking ice near Antarctica in order to refuel and resupply
McMurdo Station. When the mission is complete, the Polar Star returns to dry dock [in Seattle]
in order to complete critical maintenance and prepare it for the next ODF mission. Once out of
dry dock, it’s back to Antarctica, and the cycle repeats itself.”9 In terms of the maximum
thickness of the ice to be broken, the annual McMurdo resupply mission generally poses the
greatest icebreaking challenge for U.S. polar icebreakers, though Arctic ice can frequently pose
its own significant icebreaking challenges for U.S. polar icebreakers. The Coast Guard’s medium

6 Cutters are commissioned Coast Guard vessels greater than 65 feet in length.
7 For a list of the 11 missions, see footnote 5. The two statutory missions not supported by polar ice operations are
illegal drug interdiction and undocumented migrant interdiction. (Department of Homeland Security, Polar Icebreaking
Recapitalization Project Mission Need Statement, Version 1.0
, approved by DHS June 28, 2013, p. 10.)
8 This passage, beginning with “The roles of ... ,” originated in an earlier iteration of this CRS report and was later
transferred by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with minor changes to Government Accountability
Office, Coast Guard[:]Efforts to Identify Arctic Requirements Are Ongoing, but More Communication about Agency
Planning Efforts Would Be Beneficial
, GAO-10-870, September 2010, p. 53.
9 NyxoLyno Cangemi, “Coast Guard Icebreaker Crew Completes Second Arctic Mission; U.S. Interests in Arctic
Domain Depends [sic] on Fleet Recapitalization,” DVIDS (Defense Visual Information Distribution System), October
19, 2018.
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Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (Polar Icebreaker) Program

polar icebreaker, Healy, spends most of its operational time in the Arctic supporting NSF research
activities and performing other operations.
Although polar ice is diminishing due to climate change, observers generally expect that this
development will not eliminate the need for U.S. polar icebreakers, and in some respects might
increase mission demands for them. Even with the diminishment of polar ice, there are still
significant ice-covered areas in the polar regions, and diminishment of polar ice could lead in
coming years to increased commercial ship, cruise ship, and naval surface ship operations, as well
as increased exploration for oil and other resources, in the Arctic—activities that could require
increased levels of support from polar icebreakers, particularly since waters described as “ice
free” can actually still have some amount of ice.10 Changing ice conditions in Antarctic waters
have made the McMurdo resupply mission more challenging since 2000.11
The Coast Guard’s Arctic strategic outlook document, released in April 2019, states
In order to prosecute its missions in the Arctic, the Coast Guard must fully understand and
operate freely in this vast and unforgiving environment. Effective capability requires
sufficient heavy icebreaking vessels, reliable high-latitude communications, and
comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness. In order to respond to crises in the Arctic,
our Nation must also muster adequate personnel, aviation, and logistics resources in the
region. The Coast Guard is the sole provider and operator of the U.S. polar capable fleet
but currently does not have the capability or capacity to assure access in the high latitudes.
Closing the gap requires persistent investment in capabilities and capacity for polar
operations, including the Polar Security Cutter.12
Current U.S. Polar Icebreakers
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 in recent years has
invested millions of dollars to overhaul, repair, and extend the service life of Polar Star, but as a
result of its advancing age, the ship’s material condition has nevertheless become increasingly
fragile, if not precarious. During its annual deployments to McMurdo Station in Antarctica,
shipboard equipment frequently breaks, and shipboard fires sometimes occur.13 Replacements for
many of the ship’s components are no longer commercially available. To help keep Polar Star
operational, the Coast Guard is using Polar Sea as a source of replacement parts.
On August 18, 2020, an electrical fire occurred in one of Healy’s main propulsion motors as the
ship was 60 miles off Seward, AK, en route to the Arctic. As a result of the fire, the ship’s

10 For more on changes in the Arctic due to diminishment of Arctic ice, see CRS Report R41153, Changes in the
Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
, coordinated by Ronald O'Rourke.
11 National Research Council, Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World, An Assessment of U.S. Needs, Washington,
2007, pp. 6-7, 14, 63.
12 United States Coast Guard, Arctic Strategic Outlook, April 2019, p. 6.
13 See, for example, Richard Read, “Meet the Neglected 43-Year-Old Stepchild of the U.S. Military-Industrial
Complex,” Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2019; Melody Schreiber, “The Only Working US Heavy Icebreaker Catches
Fire Returning from Antarctica,” Arctic Today, March 2, 2019; Calvin Biesecker, “Fire Breaks Out On Coast Guard’s
Aging, and Only, Heavy Icebreaker,” Defense Daily, March 1, 2019.
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starboard propulsion motor and shaft became nonoperational. The ship canceled its deployment to
the Arctic and returned to its homeport in Seattle for inspection and repairs.14
For additional background information on current U.S. polar icebreakers and polar research ships,
see Appendix A.
Required Numbers of U.S. Polar/Arctic Icebreakers
At Least Six Ships, Including Three Capable of Breaking Heavy Polar Ice
Coast Guard officials state that the service in coming years will need at least six polar
icebreakers, including three capable of breaking heavy polar ice, to perform its various polar
missions. The Coast Guard testified in February 2020, for example, that
The 2010 High Latitude Mission Analysis Report (HL MAR) identified the need for six
new polar icebreakers (at least three of which must be heavy) under the assumption that,
in the future, the Coast Guard would be required to perform nine of its eleven statutory
missions year-round in the Arctic, and meet all icebreaking needs in support of the United
States Antarctic Program.
In 2017, the Coast Guard’s Center for Arctic Study and Policy completed an addendum to
the HL MAR. The objectives were to provide a broad overview of changes in the polar
regions over the last seven years and to provide specific information for use in determining
potential impacts on mission areas in the polar regions. This addendum provides
confidence in the original findings and encourages the sustained reliance on its initial
recommendations on the Nation’s need for six icebreakers, three of which must be heavy
icebreakers.15
Starting in January 2021, Admiral Karl Schultz, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, has stated
publicly that the Coast Guard would ideally like to have a fleet of six PSCs and three new
medium polar icebreakers (which the Coast Guard in late 2020 began referring to publicly as
Arctic Security Cutters, or ASCs), for a total fleet of nine PSCs and ASCs.16
June 9, 2020, Presidential Memorandum Concerning Polar Icebreakers
On June 9, 2020, President Trump issued a memorandum concerning polar icebreakers that
directs DHS, in coordination with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of
Commerce, the Department of State, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to
review required numbers of polar security cutters, U.S. and international basing options for polar
security cutters, and options for bridging the gap in polar vessels until new polar security cutters

14 See, for example, “Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy Suffers Fire on Arctic Mission; All Arctic Operations Cancelled,”
USNI News, August 25, 2020. The article reprints the Coast Guard’s August 25 statement about the incident. See also
Melody Schreiber, “The Only US Icebreaker Sailing the Arctic Faces Extensive Repairs After an Engine Fire,” Arctic
Today
, October 13, 2020. Regarding repair work on the ship, see Paul McLeary, “Crippled Icebreaker Healy to Get
Complex Rebuild; Huge Engine Heads to Panama Canal,” Breaking Defense, October 7, 2020; Cal Biesecker, “Senator
Says Decision Could Come Soon to Lease Icebreakers for Coast Guard,” Defense Daily, December 16, 2020.
15 Testimony of Admiral Charles W. Ray, Coast Guard Vice Commandant, on “Arctic Security Issues,” before the
House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation & Maritime Security, February 5, 2020, p. 9.
16 See Jon Harper, “SNA News: Coast Guard Wants Budget ‘Booster Shot,’” National Defense, January 13, 2021;
Mallory Shelbourne, “Schultz: Nuclear Icebreakers Are Not An Option for Coast Guard,” USNI News, January 14,
2021; Cal Biesecker, “With More Resources, Coast Guard Sees Need For Nice Polar Icebreakers,” Defense Daily,
January 14, 2021; Stew Magnuson, “Coast Guard Ship Modernization Under Full Steam,” National Defense, March 3,
2021.
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are delivered, and to report back to President Trump within 60 days (i.e., by August 8, 2020) on
the results of the review.
Additional Background Information
For additional background information on required numbers of U.S. polar icebreakers, including
the text of the above-mentioned June 9, 2020, presidential memorandum, see Appendix B.
Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC) Program
Overview
The PSC program was initiated in the Coast Guard’s FY2013 budget submission, and envisages
the acquisition of three new PSCs (i.e., heavy polar icebreakers), to be followed years from now
by the acquisition of up to three new ASCs (i.e., medium polar icebreakers). The Coast Guard
wants to begin construction of the first new heavy polar icebreaker in 2021 and have it enter
service in 2024.
Program Name
The PSC program was previously known as the polar icebreaker (PIB) program. Changing the
program’s name to the PSC program is intended to call attention to the fact that the Coast Guard’s
polar icebreakers perform a variety of missions relating to national security, not just
icebreaking.17 Although it is now called the PSC program, observers as a matter of convenience
might refer to it as the polar icebreaker program.
Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office (IPO)
The PSC program is managed by a Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office (IPO). A key
aim in establishing the IPO was to permit the Navy to share its ship-procurement best practices
with the Coast Guard so as to help the Coast Guard reduce the time and cost needed to design and
procure the PSCs.
Parent Design Approach
The PSC program is using the parent design approach, meaning that the design of the PSC is to
be based on an existing icebreaker design. A key aim in using the parent design approach is to
reduce cost, schedule, and technical risk in the PSC program.
Program Schedule
The PSC program’s schedule calls for delivering the three PSCs at 12-month intervals, at the end
of the third quarters of FY2024, FY2025, and FY2026, respectively.
Procurement Cost
As shown in Table 1, 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

17 See, for example, Ben Werner and Sam LaGrone, “Coast Guard Renames New Icebreaker Program ‘Polar Security
Cutter,’” USNI News, September 27, 2018. See also Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “With Funding In Peril, Coast Guard
Pushes Icebreaker As ‘Polar Security Cutter,’” Breaking Defense, October 29, 2018.
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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). As also shown in Table 1, 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). The shipbuilder’s contract-award cost for the first
ship is $745.9 million, with options for the second and third ships that, if exercised, would
increase the total value of the contract to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9 billion).
Table 1. Estimated PSC Procurement Costs
(In millions of then-year dollars)
Cost element
1st PSC 2nd PSC
3rd PSC
Total
Target contract price
746
544
535
1,825
Program costs (including GFE)
218
175
228
621
Post-delivery costs
46
47
49
142
Costs for Navy-Type, Navy-Owned (NTNO) equipment
28
28
29
85
TOTAL
1,038
794
841
2,673
Source: U.S. Navy information paper on PSC program, August 18, 2021, received from Navy Office of
Legislative Affairs, August 31, 2021, which states that costs shown are from the PSC program 2020 Life Cycle
Cost Estimate.
Notes: Target contract price includes detail design, construction, and long lead-time materials (LLTM), and does
not reflect potential costs rising to the contract ceiling price. GFE is government-furnished equipment—
equipment that the government procures and then provides to the shipbuilder for installation on the ship.
NTNO equipment is GFE that the Navy provides—such as combat weapons systems, sensors and
communications equipment and supplies—for meeting Coast Guard/Navy naval operational capabilities wartime
readiness requirements. (For additional discussion, see Coast Guard Commandant Instruction (COMDTINST)
7100.2G, May 16, 2013, accessed August 31, 2021, at https://media.defense.gov/2017/Mar/15/2001716816/-1/-1/0/
CI_7100_2G.PDF.)
Program Funding
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.
Contract Award
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 Halter Marine Inc. (formerly VT Halter Marine) of
Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. Halter Marine
was the leader of one of three industry teams that competed for the DD&C contract; the other two
bidders reportedly were Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, Louisiana, and a partnership between
Philly Shipyard of Philadelphia and Fincantieri/Marinette Marine, of Marinette, WI.18 The DD&C
contract includes options for building the second and third PSCs. If both of these options are

18 “Mississippi Shipyard Gets $746M Contract for Icebreaker,” Associated Press, April 23, 2019.
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exercised, the total value of the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9
billion).19
On December 29, 2021, the Coast Guard exercised a $552.7 million fixed price incentive option
to its contract with Halter Marine Inc. for the second PSC.20
As shown in Table 1, 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.
Ship Design
Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, and Figure 4 show renderings of Halter Marine’s design for the
PSC. An April 25, 2019, press report states that “the Coast Guard and Navy said VT Halter
Marine’s winning design for the new Polar Security Cutter (PSC) ‘meets or exceeds all threshold
requirements’ in the ship specification” for the PSC program.21
A May 7, 2019, press release from Halter Marine about its design for the PSC (which Halter
Marine updated on May 29 to provide a corrected figure for the design’s full load displacement)
stated the following:
VT Halter Marine is teamed with Technology Associates, Inc. [TAI] as the ship designer
and, for over two years, has participated in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Heavy Polar Icebreaker
Industry Study. The ship design is an evolution from the mature ”Polar Stern II” [German
icebreaker] currently in design and construction; the team has worked rigorously to
demonstrate its maturity and reliability. During the study, TAI incrementally adjusted the
design and conducted a series of five ship model tank tests to optimize the design. The
vessels are 460 feet in length with a beam of 88 feet overall, a full load displacement of
approximately 22,900 long tons at delivery. The propulsion will be diesel electric at over
45,200 horse power and readily capable of breaking ice between six to eight feet thick. The
vessel will accommodate 186 personnel comfortably for an extended endurance of 90 days.
In addition to TAI, VT Halter Marine has teamed with ABB/Trident Marine for its Azipod
propulsion system,22 Raytheon for command and control systems integration, Caterpillar
for the main engines, Jamestown Metal Marine for joiner package, and Bronswerk for the
HVAC system. The program is scheduled to bring an additional 900 skilled craftsman and
staff to the Mississippi-based shipyard.23

19 See Naval Sea Systems Command, “Polar Security Cutter Contract Awarded to Recapitalize Nation’s Arctic
Capabilities,” April 23, 2019; Department of Defense, “Contracts for April 23, 2019” (Release No. CR-076-19); Sam
LaGrone, “VT Halter Marine to Build New Coast Guard Icebreaker,” USNI News, April 23, 2019; Maria Armental,
“U.S. Orders First heavy Icebreaking Vessel in Decades, as Rivals Expand Arctic Presence,” Wall Street Journal, April
23, 2019; “Mississippi Shipyard Gets $746M Contract for Icebreaker,” Associated Press, April 23, 2019.
20 U.S. Coast Guard, “Polar Security Cutter Integrated Program Office Exercises Option for Second Cutter,” U.S. Coast
Guard, December 30, 2021; Department of Defense, “Contracts for December 29, 2021.”
21 Rich Abott, “Polar Icebreaker Winner Meets Threshold Requirements, Has Incentives For Early Delivery,” Defense
Daily
, April 25, 2019.
22 ABB is ASEA Brown Boveri, a multinational corporation headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, that is, among other
things, a leading maker of electric-drive propulsion systems for ships. (ASEA is an acronym for Allmänna Svenska
Elektriska Aktiebolaget [i.e., General Swedish Electrical Limited Company], which merged with Brown, Boveri & Cie
[BBC] in 1988 to create ABB.) Azipod is ABB’s term for its azimuthing (i.e., swiveling) podded propulsors.
23 Halter Marine press release, “VT Halter Marine Awarded the USCG Polar Security Cutter,” May 7, 2019, updated
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Figure 1. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC

Source: Il ustration accompanying Sam LaGrone, “UPDATED: VT Halter Marine to Build New Coast Guard
Icebreaker,” USNI News, April 23, 2019, updated April 24, 2019. The caption to the il ustration states “An
artist’s rendering of VT Halter Marine’s winning bid for the U.S. Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter. VT Halter
Marine image used with permission.”
Figure 2. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC

Source: Il ustration posted by Robert A. Socha, Senior Vice President, Halter Marine, accessed May 6, 2019, at
https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6526621529113976832.

May 29, accessed June 12, 2019, at http://vthm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Press-Release_USCG-
PSC_Singapore-Exchange-FINAL_updatedMay29.pdf. The original (May 7) version of the press release stated that the
design’s full load displacement at delivery would be approximately 33,000 tons.
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Figure 3. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC

Source: Technology Associates, Inc. (cropped version of rendering posted at http://www.navalarchitects.us/
pictures.html, accessed June 10, 2020). A similar image was included in Halter Marine press release, “VT Halter
Marine Awarded the USCG Polar Security Cutter,” May 7, 2019, accessed May 8, 2019, at http://www.vthm.com/
public/files/20190507.pdf.
Figure 4. Rendering of Halter Marine Design for PSC

Source: Photograph accompanying Connie Lee, “New Coast Guard Icebreaker Remains on Tight Schedule,”
National Defense, May 21, 2020. The article credits the photograph to Technology Associated, Inc.
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The German icebreaker design referred to in Halter Marine’s press release, Polar Stern II (also
spelled Polarstern II) (Figure 5),24 was to be built as the replacement for Polarstern, Germany’s
current polar research and supply icebreaker. On February 14, 2020, however, the Alfred Wegener
Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, announced that “the [German]
Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) today cancelled the Europe-wide call for
tenders for the procurement of a new polar research vessel, Polarstern II, for legal reasons.”25
Figure 5. Rendering of SDC Concept Design for Polarstern II

Source: Cropped version of SDC Ship Design & Consult GmbH, design SDC2187, 133m Research Vessel,
accessed May 9, 2019, at http://www.shipdesign.de/html/index.php?navi=3&navi2=80&navi3=115. The image is
enlarged at http://www.shipdesign.de/html/detail.php?id=396.
A May 9, 2019, press report states that Polarstern II was designed by Germany’s Ship Design &
Consult (SDC), a firm based in Hamburg, Germany.26 SDC states that its concept design for
Polarstern II has a length of 133 meters (about 436.4 feet) long, a beam of 27 meters (about 88.6
feet), and a draft of 10.5 meters (about 34.4 feet), but does not provide the design’s
displacement.27 A briefing on a preliminary version of the ship’s design stated that the design at
that point was somewhat larger, with a length of 145 meters (about 476 feet), a beam of 27.3
meters (about 89.6 feet), a draft of about 11 meters (about 36.1 feet), and a displacement

24 Polarstern is the German word for Polar Star—coincidentally, the same name as the U.S. Coast Guard’s operational
heavy polar icebreaker.
25 Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, “Call for tender procedure for the
construction of a successor to the icebreaker Polarstern has been cancelled.,” February 14, 2020, accessed March 12,
2020, at https://www.awi.de/en/about-us/service/press/press-release/call-for-tender-procedure-for-the-construction-of-
a-successor-to-the-icebreaker-polarstern-has-been.html .
26 Calvin Biesecker, “Long-Lead Funding In FY ‘20 For Second Polar Security Cutter Would Help With Planning,
Shipbuilder Says,” Defense Daily, May 9, 2019.
27 SDC Ship Design & Consult GmbH, design SDC2187, 133m Research Vessel, accessed May 9, 2019, at
http://www.shipdesign.de/html/index.php?navi=3&navi2=80&navi3=115.
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(including payload) of about 26,000 tons.28 These figures suggest that SDC’s somewhat smaller
concept design for Polarstern II might have a displacement (including payload) of something less
than 26,000 tons, and perhaps closer to 23,000 tons.
The above-mentioned May 9, 2019, press report states that
VT Halter’s teammates on the PSC include ship designer Technology Associates, Inc.
(TAI), which has been involved in the design for over two years and has made “a lot of
modifications” in a number of areas to meet Coast Guard requirements, [Ronald
Baczkowski, president and CEO of VT Halter Marine] said. The team went through six
design spirals to refine the design and the major modifications include changes in the hull
form to enhance the ship’s icebreaking capabilities and keep the ice clear from the
propulsors and sensors, habitability improvements for comfort particularly in open water,
easier access to different areas of the ship, and maintenance and endurance capabilities….
Raytheon [RTN] is the integrator for C5I capabilities29 on the ship and the main engines
will be supplied by Caterpillar [CAT]. Switzerland-based ABB and Netherlands-based
Trident are supplying the Azipod propulsion system, Florida-based Jamestown Metal
Marine is supplying the joiner package, and Netherlands-based Bronswerk the heating,
ventilation and cooling system.30
Halter Marine’s 22,900-ton design for the PSC is considerably larger than the Coast Guard’s
current polar icebreakers. As shown in tons in Table A-1, the Coast Guard’s largest polar
icebreaker, Healy, is 420 feet long and has a full load displacement of 16,000 tons. Halter
Marine’s 460-foot design for the PSC is 40 feet longer than Healy, and its 22,900-ton
displacement is about 43% greater than Healy’s.
The horsepower generated by the propulsion plant in Halter Marine’s design—more than 45,200,
according to the earlier-quoted May 7, 2019 press release from Halter Marine—is roughly one-
quarter less than the 60,000 shaft horsepower of the propulsion plant in the Coast Guard’s heavy
polar icebreaker, Polar Star. As shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2, however, Halter Marine’s
design includes a centerline shafted propeller flanked by two azimuthing (i.e., swiveling) podded
propulsors—an arrangement that, along with other modern icebreaker hull design features, is
expected to give Halter Marine’s design a capability for breaking ice comparable to that of Polar
Star
. A May 8, 2019, press report states the following:
“We picked the most modern icebreaker that was on the market, soon to be production-
level design that roughly met the Coast Guard’s requirements, and we took it and modified
it,” Baczkowski said.
“It has a contoured shape. The shape of the hull does the icebreaking. Instead of being a
mass breaking ice, this actually slices the ice. The shape of the hull pushed the broken ice
aside, so it doesn’t interfere with your propulsion systems, with your instrumentation that’s
on the other side of the ship.”
The design of the cutter is optimized for seakeeping to support the long voyage from its
homeport in Washington state to as far away as the Antarctic, he said.

28 Briefing entitled “Shipboard Polar Research, 32 Years Polarstern and the requirement for Polarstern II,” accessed
May 8, 2019, at http://www.ervo-group.eu/np4/np4/%7B$clientServletPath%7D/?newsId=43&fileName=
Pr_sentation_Markterkundung_09.09.14_fin.pdf. The briefing is undated but includes a statement on one of its slides
that refers in the past tense to an event that took place in January 2016.
29 C5I stands for command, control, communications, computers, collaboration, and intelligence.
30 Calvin Biesecker, “Long-Lead Funding In FY ‘20 For Second Polar Security Cutter Would Help With Planning,
Shipbuilder Says,” Defense Daily, May 9, 2019. Abbreviations for firm names in brackets as in original.
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“It’s an optimum design between icebreaking and seakeeping.”
“With the propulsors, with one fixed and two steerable, we were able to optimize the
seakeeping capability so when you’re going on long transits from Washington to Antarctica
the crew is not beat to a pulp or heavily fatigued because of the stability characteristics in
open water.”31
Home Port
On June 17, 2019, the Coast Guard announced that it intends to homeport its PSCs at Seattle,
WA, where the Coast Guard’s current polar icebreakers are homeported.32
FY2022 Funding Request
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.
Service Life Extension for Polar Star
The Coast Guard plans to extend the service life of Polar Star until the delivery of at least the
second PSC. In February 2020, for example, the Coast Guard testified that
The Coast Guard also understands that we must maintain our existing heavy and medium
icebreaking capability while proceeding with recapitalization. Construction on the first
PSC is planned to begin in 2021 with delivery planned for 2024; however, the contract
includes financial incentives for earlier delivery. Maintenance of POLAR STAR will be
critical to sustaining this capability until the new PSCs are delivered. Robust planning
efforts for a service life extension project on POLAR STAR are already underway and
initial work for this project will begin in 2020, with phased industrial work occurring
annually from 2021 through 2023. The end goal of this process will be to extend the
vessel’s service life until delivery of at least the second new PSC.33
The Coast Guard estimates the cost of Polar Star’s service life extension work at $75 million.
The work is being funded at a rate of $15 million per year; the $15 million requested in the
FY2022 budget is the fourth of five planned annual funding increments. This funding is included
in the vessels portion of the Coast Guard’s PC&I account, in a line item called “Polar
Sustainment” that is separate from the line item for the PSC program.
Issues for Congress
FY2022 Funding
One issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Coast Guard’s $170 million
FY2022 procurement funding request for the PSC. In considering this issue, Congress may

31 Sam LaGrone, “VT Halter Marine Details Coast Guard Icebreaker Bid,” USNI News, May 8, 2019.
32 See, for example, Ben Werner, “Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter Will Be Homeported in Seattle,” USNI News,
June 17, 2019; Navy Times Staff, “Coast Guard Picks Homeport for New Icebreaker Fleet,” Navy Times, June 17,
2019.
33 Testimony of Admiral Charles W. Ray, Coast Guard Vice Commandant, on “Arctic Security Issues,” before the
House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation & Maritime Security, February 5, 2020, p. 9.
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consider, among other things, whether the Coast Guard has accurately priced the work it is
proposing to do in the PSC program in FY2022.
Potential Impact of COVID-19 Situation
Another issue for Congress concerns the potential impact of the COVID-19 situation on the
execution of U.S. military shipbuilding programs, including the PSC program. For additional
discussion of this issue, see CRS Report RL32665, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans:
Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
Delay in Construction Start on First PSC
Another potential issue for Congress concerns a delay in the start of construction of the first PSC.
A June 28, 2021, press report states
Cutting of steel on the first new Coast Guard heavy polar icebreaker could happen in the
coming months, which is close to a year later than originally expected, but the forecast to
start production still appears hazy....
The Coast Guard originally had expected the first PSC to be delivered in the first half of
2024 the potential to accelerate delivery into late 2023. That appears unlikely now given
that the start of construction appears to be about a year behind schedule.34
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.35

34 Cal Biesecker, “Construction Of First Polar Security Cutter Slipping,” Defense Daily, June 28, 2021.
35 Cal Biesecker, “Coast Guard Commandant Confirms Delay In Polar Security Cutter; Talks Interim Purchase,”
Defense Daily, October 19, 2021. See also Melody Schreiber, “Delivery of the U.S. Coast Guard’s New Icebreaker Is
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In a letter dated August 16, 2021, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the management of the PSC
acquisition program and the Coast Guard’s efforts to address icebreaking capability gaps until the
PSCs are fully operational. The letter stated
The PSC’s shipbuilder, VT Halter, [has] begun designing the [Polar Security] cutters but
challenges, including impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, have delayed these efforts
as well as the start of lead ship construction. To mitigate the effect of these delays, DHS
and the Coast Guard may authorize the start of construction before the design is
stabilized—a practice that has resulted in poor outcomes, including cost growth, for other
shipbuilding programs. Further, with the delivery of the first cutter delayed, the Coast
Guard must continue to rely on the aging Polar Star—the U.S.’s only operational heavy
icebreaker—and explore other options to address the capability gaps, which could be
costly.
Given the schedule delays and potential for cost growth, continued oversight of the PSC
program is critical. As such, the Committee requests that the Government Accountability
Office (GAO) review the management of the PSC acquisition program and the Coast
Guard’s efforts to address icebreaking capability gaps until the PSCs are fully operational,
including but not limited to:
• The status of the PSC acquisition program and Coast Guard’s efforts to manage schedule
delays and cost growth;
• The status of efforts to maintain and extend the life of the Polar Star; and
• The status of the Coast Guard’s efforts to explore other icebreaking alternatives.36
Technical, Schedule, and Cost Risk for PSC Program
Another potential issue for Congress concerns technical, schedule, and cost risk in the PSC
program.
Parent Design and PSC Design
One potential aspect of the issue of technical, schedule, and cost risk in the PSC program relates
to the parent design for the PSC design. As mentioned earlier, a key aim in using the parent
design approach is to reduce cost, schedule, and technical risk in the PSC program. As also
mentioned earlier, Halter Marine states that its winning design for the PSC “is an evolution from
the mature ‘Polar Stern II’ [German icebreaker] currently in design and construction; the team has
worked rigorously to demonstrate its maturity and reliability.” As also mentioned earlier, Halter
Marine and ship designer Technology Associates, Inc. reportedly made “a lot of modifications”
and went through six design spirals to refine the PSC’s design. Potential oversight questions for
Congress include the following:

Delayed, Even as the Agency as [sic] Sharpens its Arctic Focus,” Arctic Today, December 1, 2021; Joseph Trevithick,
“Delivery Of The U.S. Coast Guard’s New Heavy Icebreaker Has Been Delayed Yet Again,” The Drive, December 3,
2021.
36 Letter dated August 16, 2021, from Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Chairman, and Representative Sam Graves,
Ranking Member, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to The Honorable Gene Dodaro,
Comptroller General, Government Accountability Office, accessed August 17, 2021, at
https://transportation.house.gov/imo/media/doc/2021-08-
16%20GAO%20Request%20Letter%20for%20PSC%20Follow%20On%20Review%20-%20FINAL.pdf. See also
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, “T&I Committee Leaders Ask GAO to Review Delays in Delivery
of Critical Additions to Coast Guard Fleet,” press release, August 16, 2021, and Cal Biesecker, “House Transportation
Leaders Want GAO To Review Coast Guard OPC, PSC Programs,” Defense Daily, August 16, 2021.
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 To what degree was Polarstern II’s design developed at the time it was used as
the parent design for developing the PSC design? How much of Polarstern II’s
detail design and construction plan was completed at that time?
 How closely related is the PSC’s design to Polarstern II’s design? How many
changes were made to Polarstern II’s design to develop the PSC design? What
were these changes, and what technical, schedule, and cost risks, if any, might
arise from them?
February 2020 GAO Testimony
February 2020 GAO testimony on Coast Guard Arctic capabilities states
The Coast Guard Has Taken Steps to Address Technology, Design, Cost, and
Schedule Risks for the Polar Security Cutters

In September 2018, we found that the Coast Guard did not have a sound business case
when it established the acquisition baselines for the Polar Security Cutter program in March
2018 due to risks in four key areas: technology, design, cost, and schedule. Our prior work
has found that successful acquisition programs start with solid, executable business cases
before setting program baselines and committing resources. A sound business case requires
balance between the concept selected to satisfy operator requirements and the resources—
design knowledge, technologies, funding, and time—needed to transform the concept into
a product, which in this case is a ship with polar icebreaking capabilities. Without a sound
business case, acquisition programs are at risk of breaching the cost, schedule, and
performance baselines set when the program was initiated—in other words, experiencing
cost growth, schedule delays, and reduced capabilities.
To address the key risks we identified and help establish a sound business case for the Polar
Security Cutter program, we made six recommendations to DHS, Coast Guard, and the
Navy in our September 2018 report. The agencies concurred with all six recommendations
and have taken steps to address some of the risks, as noted below.
Technology. The Coast Guard planned to use proven technologies for the program, but
did not conduct a technology readiness assessment to determine the maturity of key
technologies prior to setting baselines. As a result, the Coast Guard did not have full insight
into whether these technologies were mature and was potentially underrepresenting the
technical risk of the program. We recommended that the program conduct a technology
readiness assessment, which DHS completed in June 2019. DHS determined that two of
the three key technologies were mature and the remaining technology was approaching
maturity. The Coast Guard now has plans in place to use testing results to increase the
maturity and reduce risks for the remaining technology—the hull form.
Design. The Coast Guard set program baselines before conducting a preliminary design
review. This review is a systems engineering event intended to verify that the contractor’s
design meets the requirement of the ship specifications and is producible. By not
conducting this review before establishing program baselines, the program is at risk of
having an unstable design, thereby increasing the program’s cost and schedule risks. We
recommended that the program update its baselines prior to authorizing lead ship
construction and after completion of the preliminary design review. DHS and the Coast
Guard agreed and plan to take these steps by fiscal year 2022.
Cost. The cost estimate that informed the program’s $9.8 billion cost baseline—which
includes life cycle costs for the acquisition, [and 30 years of] operations, and maintenance
of three polar icebreakers—substantially met our best practices for being comprehensive,
well-documented, and accurate. But the estimate only partially met best practices for being
credible. The cost estimate did not quantify the range of possible costs over the entire life
of the program, such as the period of operations and support. As a result, the cost estimate
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was not fully reliable and may underestimate the total funding needed for the program. We
recommended that the program update its cost estimate to include risk and uncertainty
analysis on all phases of the program life cycle, among other things. Subsequently, in
December 2019, we found that while the Coast Guard updated the cost estimate in June
2019 to inform the budget process, the estimate did not reflect cost changes resulting from
the contract award two months prior. Coast Guard officials acknowledged these cost risks
and plan to address them as part of the next update to the program’s cost estimate. Coast
Guard officials told us that they plan to update the cost estimate by the end of February
2020.
Schedule. The Coast Guard’s initial planned delivery dates of 2023, 2025, and 2026 for
the three ships were not informed by a realistic assessment of shipbuilding activities.
Rather, these dates were primarily driven by the potential gap in icebreaking capabilities
once the Coast Guard’s only operating heavy polar icebreaker—the Polar Star—reaches
the end of its service life. In addition, our analysis of selected lead ships for other Coast
Guard and Navy shipbuilding programs found the icebreaker program’s estimated
construction time of 3 years to be optimistic. An unrealistic schedule puts the Coast Guard
at risk of not delivering the icebreakers when promised. As a result, the potential gap in
icebreaking capabilities could widen. We recommended that the program develop a
realistic schedule, including delivery dates, and determine schedule risks during the
construction phase of the program. In response, the Coast Guard is now tracking additional
schedule risks for the program and is in the process of updating its program schedule.
Further, in December 2019, we found that the contract delivery date for the lead ship, May
2024, is 2 months after the delivery date in the program’s schedule baseline. Coast Guard
officials said they plan to address this risk when they update the program’s schedule by the
end of March 2020.37
Contract with Options vs. Block Buy Contract
Another potential issue for Congress is whether to use a contract with options or a block buy
contract to acquire at least some of the PSCs. As noted earlier, the DD&C contract that the Coast
Guard awarded to Halter Marine is a contract with options. Coast Guard and Navy officials,
however, have expressed openness to the idea of using a block buy contract to acquire at least
some of the ships (particularly the second and third PSCs), and requested information on the
possibility of using block buy contracting as part of the request for proposals (RFP) for the PSC
program that the Coast Guard released on March 2, 2018. Section 311 of the Frank LoBiondo
Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (S. 140/P.L. 115-282 of December 4, 2018) provides
permanent authority for the Coast Guard to use block buy contracting with economic order
quantity (EOQ) purchases (i.e., up-front batch purchases) of components in its major acquisition
programs. The authority is now codified at 14 U.S.C. 1137.
Although a contract with options covers multiple years, it operates more like a form of annual
contracting, and it does not generate the kinds of savings that are possible with a block buy
contract. Compared with a contract with options, a block buy contract would reduce the
government’s flexibility regarding whether and when to acquire the second and third ships, and
what design to build them to,38 and in return reduce the combined acquisition cost of the ships

37 Government Accountability Office, Arctic Capabilities[:] Coast Guard Is Taking Steps to Address Key Challenges,
but Additional Work Remains,
GAO-20-347T, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime
Security, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives, Statement of Marie A. Mak, Director,
Contracting and National Security Acquisitions, February 5, 2020, pp. 7-9. See also Craig Hooper, “Trouble Ahead As
Builder Of USCG Heavy Icebreaker Abruptly Changes Leadership,” Forbes, June 30, 2020.
38 Stated more fully, from a congressional perspective, trade-offs in using block buy contracting include the following:
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covered by the contract. The Navy has used block buy contracts to reduce procurement costs of
Virginia-class attack submarines and (in more recent years) Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) and
John Lewis (TAO-205) class oilers.39 CRS estimates that compared to costs using a contract with
options, using a block buy contract that included economic order quantity (EOQ) purchases (i.e.,
up-front batch purchases) of materials and components for three heavy polar icebreakers could
reduce the combined acquisition cost of the three ships by upwards of 7%, which could equate to
a savings of upwards of $150 million.
A congressionally mandated July 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and
Medicine (NASEM) report on acquisition and operation of polar icebreakers states the following
(emphasis as in original):
3. Recommendation: USCG should follow an acquisition strategy that includes block
buy contracting with a fixed price incentive fee contract and take other measures to
ensure best value for investment of public funds.

Icebreaker design and construction costs can be clearly defined, and a fixed price incentive
fee construction contract is the most reliable mechanism for controlling costs for a program
of this complexity. This technique is widely used by the U.S. Navy. To help ensure best
long-term value, the criteria for evaluating shipyard proposals should incorporate explicitly
defined lifecycle cost metrics....
A block buy authority for this program will need to contain specific language for economic
order quantity purchases for materials, advanced design, and construction activities. A
block buy contracting program with economic order quantity purchases enables series
construction, motivates competitive bidding, and allows for volume purchase and for the
timely acquisition of material with long lead times. It would enable continuous production,
give the program the maximum benefit from the learning curve, and thus reduce labor hours
on subsequent vessels....
If advantage is taken of learning and quantity discounts available through the
recommended block buy contracting acquisition strategy, the average cost per heavy
icebreaker is approximately $791 million, on the basis of the acquisition of four ships.40
Section 8111 of the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 (Division
H/Division G of FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act [H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283]) states
SEC. 8111. POLAR ICEBREAKERS.

—reduced congressional control over year-to-year spending, and tying the hands of future Congresses;
—reduced flexibility for making changes in Coast Guard acquisition programs in response to unforeseen changes
in strategic or budgetary circumstances (which can cause any needed funding reductions to fall more heavily on
acquisition programs not covered by multiyear contracts);
—a potential need to shift funding from later fiscal years to earlier fiscal years to fund economic order quantity
(EOQ) purchases (i.e., up-front batch purchases) of components;
—the risk of having to make penalty payments to shipbuilders if multiyear contracts need to be terminated due to
unavailability of funds needed to the continue the contracts; and
—the risk that materials and components purchased for ships to be acquired in future years might go to waste if
those ships are not eventually acquired.
39 See CRS Report R41909, Multiyear Procurement (MYP) and Block Buy Contracting in Defense Acquisition:
Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke; CRS Report RL33741, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
Program: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke; and CRS Report R43546, Navy John Lewis
(TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke.
40 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Division on Earth and Life Studies and Transportation
Research Board, Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs, Letter Report, with
cover letter dated July 11, 2017, pp. 14, 15.
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(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 561 of title 14, United States Code, is amended to read as
follows:
‘‘§ 561. Icebreaking in polar regions
‘‘(a) PROCUREMENT AUTHORITY.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may enter into one or more contracts for the
procurement of—
‘‘(A) the Polar Security Cutters approved as part of a major acquisition program as of
November 1, 2019; and
‘‘(B) 3 additional Polar Security Cutters.
‘‘(2) CONDITION FOR OUT-YEAR CONTRACT PAYMENTS.—A contract entered
into under paragraph (1) shall provide that any obligation of the United States to make a
payment under the contract during a fiscal year after fiscal year 2019 is subject to the
availability of appropriations or funds for that purpose for such later fiscal year.
‘‘(b) PLANNING.—The Secretary shall facilitate planning for the design, procurement,
maintenance, deployment, and operation of icebreakers as needed to support the statutory
missions of the Coast Guard in the polar regions by allocating all funds to support
icebreaking operations in such regions, except for recurring incremental costs associated
with specific projects, to the Coast Guard.
‘‘(c) REIMBURSEMENT.—Nothing in this section shall preclude the Secretary from
seeking reimbursement for operation and maintenance costs of the Polar Star, Healy, or
any other Polar Security Cutter from other Federal agencies and entities, including foreign
countries, that benefit from the use of those vessels.
‘‘(d) RESTRICTION.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commandant may not—
‘‘(A) transfer, relinquish ownership of, dismantle, or recycle the Polar Sea or Polar Star;
‘‘(B) change the current homeport of the Polar Sea or Polar Star; or
‘‘(C) expend any funds—
‘‘(i) for any expenses directly or indirectly associated with the decommissioning of the
Polar Sea or Polar Star, including expenses for dock use or other goods and services;
‘‘(ii) for any personnel expenses directly or indirectly associated with the
decommissioning of the Polar Sea or Polar Star, including expenses for a decommissioning
officer;
‘‘(iii) for any expenses associated with a decommissioning ceremony for the Polar Sea or
Polar Star;
‘‘(iv) to appoint a decommissioning officer to be affiliated with the Polar Sea or Polar Star;
or
‘‘(v) to place the Polar Sea or Polar Star in inactive status.
‘‘(2) SUNSET.—This subsection shall cease to have effect on September 30, 2022.
‘‘(e) LIMITATION.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may not expend amounts appropriated for the Coast
Guard for any of fiscal years 2015 through 2024, for—
‘‘(A) design activities related to a capability of a Polar Security Cutter that is based solely
on an operational requirement of a Federal department or agency other than the Coast
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Guard, except for amounts appropriated for design activities for a fiscal year before fiscal
year 2016; or
‘‘(B) long-lead-time materials, production, or postdelivery activities related to such a
capability.
‘‘(2) OTHER AMOUNTS.—Amounts made available to the Secretary under an agreement
with a Federal department or agency other than the Coast Guard and expended on a
capability of a Polar Security Cutter that is based solely on an operational requirement of
such Federal department or agency shall not be treated as amounts expended by the
Secretary for purposes of the limitation under paragraph (1).
‘‘(f) ENHANCED MAINTENANCE PROGRAM FOR THE POLAR STAR.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Commandant shall
conduct an enhanced maintenance program on the Polar Star to extend the service life of
such vessel until at least December 31, 2025.
‘‘(2) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—The Commandant may use funds
made available pursuant to section 4902(1)(A), to carry out this subsection.
‘‘(g) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
‘‘(1) POLAR SEA.—The term ‘Polar Sea’ means Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea (WAGB
11).
‘‘(2) POLAR STAR.—The term ‘Polar Star’ means Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB
10).
‘‘(3) HEALY.—The term ‘Healy’ means Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20).’’.
(b) CONTRACTING FOR MAJOR ACQUISITIONS PROGRAMS.—Section 1137(a) of
title 14, United States Code, is amended by inserting ‘‘and 3 Polar Security Cutters in
addition to those approved as part of a major acquisition program on November 1, 2019’’
before the period at the end.
(c) REPEALS.—
(1) COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 2006.—Section
210 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006 (14 U.S.C. 504 note) is
repealed.
(2) COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 2012.—Section
222 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–213)
is repealed.
(3) HOWARD COBLE COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION ACT
OF 2014.—Section 505 of the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–281) is repealed.
(4) FRANK LOBIONDO COAST GUARD AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2018.—Section
821 of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–282)
is repealed.
Common Design for Heavy and Medium Polar Icebreakers
Another potential issue for Congress is whether to procure the Coast Guard’s envisioned fleet of
PSCs (i.e., heavy polar icebreakers) and ASCs (i.e., medium polar icebreakers) to a common
basic design. A congressionally mandated July 2017 report from the National Academies of
Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) on the acquisition and operation of polar
icebreakers concluded that notional operational requirements for new medium polar icebreakers
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would result in ships that would not be too different in size from new heavy polar icebreakers.
(As shown in Table A-1, the Coast Guard’s current medium polar icebreaker, Healy, is actually
somewhat larger than the Coast Guard’s heavy polar icebreaker, Polar Star.) Given what it
concluded as the probable similarity in size between future U.S. heavy and medium polar
icebreakers, the NASEM report recommended building a single medium polar icebreaker to the
same common design as three new heavy polar icebreakers. This approach, the report concluded,
would reduce the cost of the medium icebreaker by avoiding the cost of developing a new design
and by making the medium polar icebreaker the fourth ship on an existing production learning
curve rather than the first ship on a new production learning curve. The NASEM report stated the
following (emphasis as in original):
2. Recommendation: The United States Congress should fund the construction of four
polar icebreakers of common design that would be owned and operated by the United
States Coast Guard (USCG).

The current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Mission Need Statement...
contemplates a combination of medium and heavy icebreakers. The committee’s
recommendation is for a single class of polar icebreaker with heavy icebreaking capability.
Proceeding with a single class means that only one design will be needed, which will
provide cost savings. The committee has found that the fourth heavy icebreaker could be
built for a lower cost than the lead ship of a medium icebreaker class....
The DHS Mission Need Statement contemplated a total fleet of “potentially” up to six ships
of two classes—three heavy and three medium icebreakers. Details appear in the High
Latitude Mission Analysis Report. The Mission Need Statement indicated that to fulfill its
statutory missions, USCG required three heavy and three medium icebreakers; each vessel
would have a single crew and would homeport in Seattle. The committee’s analysis
indicated that four heavy icebreakers will meet the statutory mission needs gap identified
by DHS for the lowest cost....
4. Finding: In developing its independent concept designs and cost estimates, the
committee determined that the costs estimated by USCG for the heavy icebreaker are
reasonable. However, the committee believes that the costs of medium icebreakers
identified in the High Latitude Mission Analysis Report are significantly
underestimated
....
Although USCG has not yet developed the operational requirements document for a
medium polar icebreaker, the committee was able to apply the known principal
characteristics of the USCG Cutter Healy to estimate the scope of work and cost of a similar
medium icebreaker. The committee estimates that a first-of-class medium icebreaker will
cost approximately $786 million. The fourth ship of the heavy icebreaker series is
estimated to cost $692 million. Designing a medium-class polar icebreaker in a second
shipyard would incur the estimated engineering, design, and planning costs of $126 million
and would forgo learning from the first three ships; the learning curve would be restarted
with the first medium design. Costs of building the fourth heavy icebreaker would be less
than the costs of designing and building a first-of-class medium icebreaker....
6. Recommendation: USCG should ensure that the common polar icebreaker design
is science-ready and that one of the ships has full science capability.

All four proposed ships would be designed as “science-ready,” which will be more cost-
effective when one of the four ships—most likely the fourth—is made fully science
capable. Including science readiness in the common polar icebreaker design is the most
cost-effective way of fulfilling both the USCG’s polar missions and the nation’s scientific
research polar icebreaker needs.... The incremental costs of a science-ready design for each
of the four ships ($10 million to $20 million per ship) and of full science capability for one
of the ships at the initial build (an additional $20 million to $30 million) are less than the
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independent design and build cost of a dedicated research medium icebreaker.... In
briefings at its first meeting, the committee learned that the National Science Foundation
and other agencies do not have budgets to support full-time heavy icebreaker access or the
incremental cost of design, even though their science programs may require this capability.
Given the small incremental cost, the committee believes that the science capability cited
above should be included in the acquisition costs.
Science-ready design includes critical elements that cannot be retrofitted cost-effectively
into an existing ship and that should be incorporated in the initial design and build. Among
these elements are structural supports, appropriate interior and exterior spaces, flexible
accommodation spaces that can embark up to 50 science personnel, a hull design that
accommodates multiple transducers and minimizes bubble sweep while optimizing
icebreaking capability, machinery arrangements and noise dampening to mitigate
interference with sonar transducers, and weight and stability latitudes to allow installation
of scientific equipment. Such a design will enable any of the ships to be retrofitted for full
science capability in the future, if necessary....
Within the time frame of the recommended build sequence, the United States will require
a science-capable polar icebreaker to replace the science capabilities of the Healy upon her
retirement. To fulfill this need, one of the heavy polar icebreakers would be procured at the
initial build with full science capability; the ability to fulfill other USCG missions would
be retained. The ship would be outfitted with oceanographic overboarding equipment and
instrumentation and facilities comparable with those of modern oceanographic research
vessels. Some basic scientific capability, such as hydrographic mapping sonar, should be
acquired at the time of the build of each ship so that environmental data that are essential
in fulfilling USCG polar missions can be collected.41
If policymakers decide to procure a second new ASC or a third new ASC, the same general
approach recommended by the NASEM report could be followed—a second ASC and third ASC
could be built to the same common design used for the three new PSCs and the first new ASC.
An April 12, 2018, press report states the following:
As the Coast Guard prepares to review industry bids for a new heavy polar icebreaker, the
service is keeping its options open for the right number and mix of polar icebreakers it will
need in the future, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the [then-]commandant of the Coast Guard, said on
Wednesday [April 11].
The Coast Guard’s program of record is for three heavy and three medium polar icebreakers
but Zukunft said the “jury is still out” whether that will remain so. Right now, the service
is aiming toward building three new heavy icebreakers, but it might make sense just to
keep building these ships, he told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in
Washington, D.C.
Zukunft said that “when you start looking at the business case after you build three, and
then you need to look at what is the economy of scale when you start building heavy
icebreakers, and would it be less expensive to continue to build heavies and not mediums.”
He added that the heavy icebreakers provide more capability, and if the price is
“affordable” and in “the same range” as building medium icebreakers, then “maybe you
end up with one class of heavy icebreakers.”
Building only one class of ships has a number of advantages in terms of maintenance, crew
familiarity, configuration management, and more, he said. A decision on what the future

41 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Division on Earth and Life Studies and Transportation
Research Board, Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs, Letter Report, with
cover letter dated July 11, 2017, pp. 2, 4-6.
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icebreaker fleet will consist of is “still probably several years out .... but that’s one option
that we want to keep open going forward,” Zukunft said.42
Section 8108 of the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 (Division
H/Division G of FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act [H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283]) states
SEC. 8108. POLAR SECURITY CUTTER ACQUISITION REPORT.
Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commandant shall
submit to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure and Armed Services of the
House of Representatives, and the Committees on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
and Armed Services of the Senate a report on—
(1) the extent to which specifications, key drawings, and detail design for the Polar Security
Cutter are complete before the start of construction;
(2) the extent to which Polar Security Cutter hulls numbers one, two, and three are science
ready; and
(3) what actions will be taken to ensure that Polar Security Cutter hull number four is
science capable, as described in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and
Medicine’s Committee on Polar Icebreaker Cost Assessment letter report entitled
‘‘Acquisition and Operation of Polar Ice breakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs’’ and
dated July 11, 2017.
Funding Coast Guard Polar Icebreakers through Navy’s
Shipbuilding Account
Another potential issue for Congress is whether to continue providing at least some of the
procurement funding for the PSC program through the Navy’s shipbuilding account, known
formally as the Shipbuilding and Conversion Navy (SCN) appropriation account. As noted
earlier, $300 million of the funding that the PSC program has received through FY2021 was
provided through the SCN account in FY2017 and FY2018 ($150 million each year). A May 2018
GAO report states that agreements between DHS, the Coast Guard, and the Navy that were made
following the establishment of the Coast Guard-Navy integrated program office for the PSC
program “state that the program’s contracting actions could be funded by either USCG or Navy
appropriations, and the source of the appropriations will award the contract.”43
Although providing funding for Coast Guard ships through the SCN account creates some
complexity in tracking and executing funding for Coast Guard ship acquisition, and can raise a
question as to whether that funding would otherwise go toward the acquisition of Navy ships, it
has been used in the past for funding Coast Guard ships other than heavy polar icebreakers:
Healy was funded largely (about 89%) through the SCN account.44

42 Calvin Biesecker, “Coast Guard Leaving Options Open For Future Polar Icebreaker Fleet Type,” Defense Daily,
April 12, 2018. Ellipse as in original.
43 Government Accountability Office, Homeland Security Acquisitions[:] Leveraging Programs’ Results Could Further
DHS’s Progress to Improve Portfolio Management
, GAO-18-339SP, May 2018, p. 86.
44 The somewhat complicated funding history for the ship is as follows: The Coast Guard’s proposed FY1990 budget
requested $244 million for the acquisition of an icebreaker. The FY1990 DOD appropriations act (H.R. 3072/P.L. 101-
165 of November 21, 1989) provided $329 million for the ship in the SCN account. (See pages 77 and 78 of H.Rept.
101-345 of November 13, 1989.) This figure was then reduced by $4.2 million by a sequester carried out under the
Balanced Budget And Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, also known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act
(H.J.Res. 372/P.L. 99-177 of December 12, 1985). Another $50 million was rescinded by the Dire Emergency
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 Thirty-three of the Coast Guard’s 49 Island-class 110-foot patrol boats (i.e.,
about 67% of the boats) were procured under a Navy contract. The contract was
for the construction of 21 of the boats, and included FY1990 SCN funds and
prior year DOD nonexpiring funding. During the construction phase of the
contract, the Navy exercised options under the contract for the construction 12
additional boats using FY1990 SCN funding.45
Subsections (a), (b), and (c) of Section 122 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act
(H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017) state the following:
SEC. 122. Icebreaker vessel.
(a) Authority to procure one polar-class heavy icebreaker.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—There is authorized to be procured for the Coast Guard one polar-
class heavy icebreaker vessel.
(2) CONDITION FOR OUT-YEAR CONTRACT PAYMENTS.—A contract entered into
under paragraph (1) shall provide that any obligation of the United States to make a
payment under the contract for a fiscal year after fiscal year 2018 is subject to the
availability of appropriations or funds for that purpose for such later fiscal year.
(b) Limitation on availability of funds for procurement of icebreaker vessels.—None of the
funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for the
Department of Defense for any fiscal year that are unobligated as of the date of the
enactment of this Act may be obligated or expended for the procurement of an icebreaker
vessel other than the one polar-class heavy icebreaker vessel authorized to be procured
under subsection (a)(1).
(c) Contracting authority.—
(1) COAST GUARD.—If funds are appropriated to the department in which the Coast
Guard is operating to carry out subsection (a)(1), the head of contracting activity for the
Coast Guard shall be responsible for contracting actions carried out using such funds.
(2) NAVY.—If funds are appropriated to the Department of Defense to carry out
subsection (a)(1), the head of contracting activity for the Navy, Naval Sea Systems
Command shall be responsible for contracting actions carried out using such funds.
(3) INTERAGENCY ACQUISITION.—Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), the head
of contracting activity for the Coast Guard or head of contracting activity for the Navy,
Naval Sea Systems Command (as the case may be) may authorize interagency acquisitions
that are within the authority of such head of contracting activity.46

Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Assistance, Food Stamps, Unemployment Compensation Administration,
and Other Urgent Needs, and Transfers, and Reducing Funds Budgeted for Military Spending Act of 1990 (H.R.
4404/P.L. 101-302 of May 25, 1990). An additional $59 million for the ship was then appropriated in the FY1992 DOD
Appropriations Act (H.R. 2521/P.L. 102-172 of November 26, 1991). Also, an additional $40.4 million in procurement
funding for the ship was provided through a series of annual appropriations in the Coast Guard’s Acquisition,
Construction, and Improvements (AC&I) account (as it was known prior to FY2019) from FY1988 through FY2001.
The resulting net funding for the ship was thus $374.2 million, of which $333.8 million, or 89.2%, was DOD funding,
and $40.4 million, or 10.8%, was Coast Guard procurement funding. (Source: Undated Coast Guard information paper
provided to CRS by Coast Guard legislative liaison office, March 3, 2016.)
45 Source: Navy information paper dated August 15, 2017, provided to CRS by Navy Office of Legislative Affairs on
August 23, 2017.
46 Section 122 also includes a subsection (d) that requires a GAO report assessing the cost of, and schedule for, the
procurement of new icebreakers.
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Regarding Section 122, the conference report (H.Rept. 115-404 of November 9, 2017) on H.R.
2810/P.L. 115-91 states the following:
Icebreaker vessel (sec. 122)
The House bill contained provisions (sec. 122, 123, and 1012) that would authorize the
Secretary of the Navy to act as a general agent for the Secretary of the Department in which
the Coast Guard is operating and enter into a contract for icebreaker vessels; prohibit funds
for the Department of Defense from being used for the procurement of an icebreaker vessel;
and amend section 2218 of title 10, United States Code, to authorize funds associated with
the National Defense Sealift Fund for the construction of icebreaker vessels.
The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 1048).
The Senate recedes with an amendment that would authorize one polar-class heavy
icebreaker vessel, prohibit funds for the Department of Defense from being used for the
procurement of an icebreaker vessel other than this one polar-class heavy icebreaker vessel,
clarify contracting authorities, and require a Comptroller General report.
The conferees recognize the national importance of recapitalizing the U.S. icebreaker fleet
and the extraordinary circumstances that necessitated use of Department of Defense
funding to procure the first polar-class heavy icebreaker, as partially provided in the
Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017. Accordingly, the
conferees support the authorization of this icebreaker in this Act.
The conferees note the Undersecretary of Management in the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) serves as the Acquisition Decision Authority for the Polar Icebreaker
Program and that this program is governed in accordance with DHS Acquisition
Management Directive 102–01 and Instruction 102–01–001.
The conferees believe maintaining clear lines of authority, responsibility, accountability,
and resources with the Secretary and Acquisition Decision Authority of the department in
which the U.S. Coast Guard is operating are essential to delivering icebreakers on cost and
schedule.
Accordingly, the conferees believe the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
and the Undersecretary of Management in the DHS should be the officials provided with
authorities and resources related to the Polar Icebreaker Program.
Therefore, the conferees expect subsequent icebreakers to be authorized by the
congressional committees with jurisdiction over the Coast Guard and funded using Coast
Guard appropriations. (Pages 765-766)
Building Polar Icebreakers in Foreign Shipyards
Overview
Another potential issue for Congress concerns the possibility of building polar icebreakers for the
U.S. Coast guard in foreign shipyards. Shipyards in Finland, for example, reportedly are
interested in building polar icebreakers for the U.S. Coast Guard.47 Some observers believe the
acquisition cost of Coast Guard polar security cutters could be reduced, perhaps substantially, by
building them in a foreign shipyard, such as a shipyard in Finland or in one of the other Nordic
countries that is experienced in building icebreakers. Other observers question whether icebreaker
designs offered by foreign shipbuilders would meet (or be a cost-effective way of providing) the

47 See, for example, Yereth Rosen, “Can the U.S. Benefit from Finland and Russia’s Icebreaker Expertise?” Arctic
Now
, October 9, 2017. See also Jim Paulin, “Finland Wants In On US Icebreaker Investment,” Alaska Dispatch News,
September 8, 2015.
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Coast Guard’s desired capabilities for polar security cutters, which include capabilities for
performing Coast Guard missions other than icebreaking.
Laws Relating to Building Ships in Foreign Shipyards
Some observers have suggested that a U.S. law known as the Jones Act prevents the U.S. Coast
Guard from buying or operating a foreign-built polar icebreaker. The Jones Act, however, does
not prevent the U.S. Coast Guard from buying or operating a foreign-built polar icebreaker.48 Two
other laws, however, are of note in connection with the idea of building a U.S. Coast Guard polar
icebreaker in a foreign shipyard. One is 14 U.S.C. 1151, which states the following:
§1151. Restriction on construction of vessels in foreign shipyards
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), no Coast Guard vessel, and no major component
of the hull or superstructure of a Coast Guard vessel, may be constructed in a foreign
shipyard.
(b) The President may authorize exceptions to the prohibition in subsection (a) when the
President determines that it is in the national security interest of the United States to do so.
The President shall transmit notice to Congress of any such determination, and no contract
may be made pursuant to the exception authorized until the end of the 30-day period
beginning on the date the notice of such determination is received by Congress.
The other is 10 U.S.C. 8679, which states the following:
§8679. Construction of vessels in foreign shipyards: prohibition
(a) Prohibition.-Except as provided in subsection (b), no vessel to be constructed for any
of the armed forces,49 and no major component of the hull or superstructure of any such
vessel, may be constructed in a foreign shipyard.
(b) Presidential Waiver for National Security Interest.-(1) The President may authorize
exceptions to the prohibition in subsection (a) when the President determines that it is in
the national security interest of the United States to do so.
(2) The President shall transmit notice to Congress of any such determination, and no
contract may be made pursuant to the exception authorized until the end of the 30-day
period beginning on the date on which the notice of the determination is received by
Congress.

48 The Jones Act (Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, P.L. 66-261) applies to vessels transporting
“merchandise” from one U.S. point to another U.S. point. It requires that such transportation be performed in U.S.-built
vessels owned by U.S. citizens and registered in the United States; U.S. registration, in turn, requires that crew
members be U.S. citizens. Merchandise is defined to include “merchandise owned by the U.S. Government, a State, or
a subdivision of a State; and valueless material” (46 U.S.C. §55102). Merchandise is further defined at 19 U.S.C.
§1401(c) to mean “goods, wares, and chattels of every description.” It is the waterborne transportation of merchandise
domestically that triggers the Jones Act. A vessel wishing to engage in such transportation would apply to the U.S.
Coast Guard for a “coastwise endorsement.” Thus, an icebreaker strictly performing the task it is designed for and not
transporting cargo from one U.S. point to another would not be subject to the Jones Act.
The federal agency in charge of deciding what kind of maritime activity must comply with the Jones Act, U.S. Customs
and Border Protection (CBP), has confirmed that icebreaking is not one of those activities. In a 2006 ruling, which
appears to be its most recent ruling on the subject, CPB informed Alcoa, Inc. that it could use foreign-built and foreign-
flagged vessels for icebreaking on the Hudson River in New York State. CBP reasoned that the transporting of
equipment, supplies, and materials used on or from the vessel in effecting its service is not coastwise trade, provided
that these articles are necessary for the accomplishment of the vessel’s mission and are usually carried aboard the
vessel as a matter of course. The 2006 ruling cited earlier rulings in 1974, 1985, and 2000 as precedent.
49 14 U.S.C. 101, which establishes the Coast Guard, states the following: “The Coast Guard, established January 28,
1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times.”
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(c) Exception for Inflatable Boats.-An inflatable boat or a rigid inflatable boat, as defined
by the Secretary of the Navy, is not a vessel for the purpose of the restriction in subsection
(a).
October 2017 Press Report
An October 9, 2017, press report states the following:
Finland, the world leader in icebreaker design and construction, could help pull the United
States out of its icebreaker crisis, a diplomat said at a business conference in Anchorage
last week.
“The U.S. is now in dire straits about its own icebreaker fleet. They only have two and they
are both seriously outdated. We can help,” Stefan Lindstrom, Finland’s Los Angeles-based
consul general, said in a presentation at last week’s Arctic Ambitions conference held by
the World Trade Center of Alaska....
If the U.S. makes a decision to buy a replacement from overseas, Finnish shipbuilders could
respond quickly, Lindstrom said.
In Finland, a shipyard can build and deliver a polar-class icebreaker within 24 months after
a contract is signed—a sharp contrast, Lindstrom said, to the extended discussions that the
U.S. Coast Guard and Congress have had over planning for potential new icebreakers.
And the costs for a Finnish-designed and Finnish-built polar-class icebreaker is about 200
million to 220 million Euros ($235 [million] to [$]258 million), he said. That’s far lower
than the price tag being discussed in the US.
“I have serious difficulties, however, understanding how you can pay a billion for an
icebreaker that costs one-fifth of it if you order it from abroad,” Lindstrom said. “But I'm
not going to go into those political situations.”50
It is unclear from the above-quoted remarks whether the €220-million polar-class icebreaker
being referred to would qualify as a heavy, medium, or light polar icebreaker, or to what degree it
would meet the Coast Guard’s desired capabilities for polar security cutters, which include
capabilities for performing Coast Guard missions other than icebreaking. Of the six Russian
heavy polar icebreakers shown in Table B-1 (all of which are nuclear-powered), four were built
in Russia, while the other two—sister ships named Taymyr and Vaygach that entered service
around 1989 and 1990—were mostly built in Finland and then moved to a Russian shipyard for
the installation of their nuclear reactors. All other Finnish-built icebreakers shown in Table B-1
(whether operated by Finland or other countries) could be considered, based on their brake
horsepower (BHP), to be medium or light polar icebreakers.
July 10, 2020, Remarks by President Trump
On July 10, 2020, as part of remarks by President Trump in Doral, FL, regarding U.S. Southern
Command (SOUTHCOM) counter-narcotics operations, President Trump stated
We’ve approved the two new state-of-the-art national security cutters and two polar
security cutters for the United States Coast Guard, and so much other equipment,
including—we have, under construction right now, the largest icebreaker in the world. And
we’re going to be trying to get, if we can, an extra 10 icebreakers. We only have one. Russia
has 40; we have one. So we will have 2, but we think we’ll have 10 because we’re trying
to do a deal with a certain place that has a lot of icebreakers, and we’re seeing if we can

50 Yereth Rosen, “Can the U.S. Benefit from Finland and Russia’s Icebreaker Expertise?” Arctic Now, October 9, 2017.
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make a really good deal where you can have them very fast. You know about that. We’re
working on it, and I think we can surprise you—at a very good price, which will be nice.
Much cheaper than the one we’re building, and that’s also nice. You could do about five
of them.51
June 9, 2020, Presidential Memorandum Concerning Polar Icebreakers
In possible connection with the above-quoted remarks, it can be noted that the June 9, 2020,
presidential memorandum concerning polar icebreakers that was mentioned earlier in this report
(see “Required Numbers of U.S. Polar/Arctic Icebreakers”) and whose text is reprinted in
Appendix B does the following, among other things (emphasis added):
 Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of
State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Director of
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to lead a review of requirements
for a polar security icebreaking fleet acquisition program
to acquire and
employ a suitable fleet of polar security icebreakers, and associated assets and
resources, capable of ensuring a persistent U.S. presence in the Arctic and
Antarctic regions in support of national interests and in furtherance of the
National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy, as appropriate.
 Further directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through the
Commandant of the Coast Guard, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense,
acting through the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of Energy, as
appropriate, to conduct a study of the comparative operational and fiscal benefits
and risks of a polar security icebreaking fleet mix that consists of at least three
heavy polar-class security cutters (PSC) that are appropriately outfitted to meet
the objectives of this memorandum, with the study to include, among other
things:
 an identification and assessment of at least two optimal U.S. basing
locations and at least two international basing locations, with the
assessment to “account for potential burden-sharing opportunities for basing
with the Department of Defense and allies and partners, as appropriate;”
and
 an analysis to identify executable options, with associated costs, to bridge the
gap of available vessels as early as Fiscal Year 2022 until the new PSCs
required to meet the objectives of this memorandum are operational,
including identifying executable, priced leasing options, both foreign and
domesti
c.
 Directs the Secretary of State to coordinate with the Secretary of Homeland
Security in identifying viable polar security icebreaker leasing options, provided
by partner nations, as a near- to mid-term (FY2022-FY2029) bridging strategy to
mitigate future operational degradation of Polar Star. In advance of any bid
solicitation for future polar security icebreaker acquisitions, the Secretary of
State is to coordinate with the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify

51 White House, “Remarks by President Trump on SOUTHCOM Enhanced Counternarcotics Operations,” July 10,
2020. See also Joseph Trevithick, “Trump Says He’s Working To Get 10 More Icebreakers For The Coast Guard From
‘A Certain Place,’” The Drive, July 10, 2020; Malte Humpert (High North News), “The US May Be Looking to
Acquire 10 More Icebreakers—Possibly from Finland,” Arctic Today, July 16, 2020.
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partner nations with proven foreign shipbuilding capability and expertise in
icebreaker construction
.
Funding for Purchasing or Leasing Foreign-Built Icebreakers
If the executive branch were to reach an agreement with a foreign government or a foreign firm to
purchase or lease one or more foreign-built icebreakers, implementing the agreement would
likely require the expenditure of funding appropriated by Congress (unless, for example, the
agreement calls for the ships to be made available to the United States at no cost to the U.S.
government).
Legislative Activity for FY2022
Summary of Appropriation Action on FY2022 Funding Request
The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $170.0 million in procurement funding for
the PSC program. Table 2 summarizes congressional appropriation action on the program’s
FY2022 funding request.
Table 2. Summary of Congressional Appropriations Action on
FY2022 Procurement Funding Request
(In millions of dollars)
House-

Request
HAC
passed
SAC Conf.
FY2022 DHS Appropriations Act (H.R. 4431/S. XXXX)a
PSC procurement funding
170.0
170.0

50.0

Great Lakes icebreaker procurement funding
0
0

0b

Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376)
PSC procurement funding


788.0


Great Lakes icebreaker procurement funding


350.0


Source: Table prepared by CRS, based on Coast Guard’s FY2022 budget submission, HAC and SAC committee
reports, and conference report on FY2022 DHS Appropriations Act.
Notes: HAC is House Appropriations Committee; SAC is Senate Appropriations Committee; Conf. is
conference agreement.
a. Funding shown for H.R. 4431/S. XXXX is procurement funding for a Great Lakes icebreaker in the Coast
Guard’s Procurement, Construction, and Improvements (PC&I account).
b. See the discussion in the narrative below about funding for pre-acquisition activities for a Great Lakes
icebreaker that is recommended in the SAC report for S. XXXX for the Coast Guard’s Operations and
Support (O&S) account.
FY2022 DHS Appropriations Act (H.R. 4431/S. XXXX)
House
The House Appropriations Committee, in its report (H.Rept. 117-87 of July 15, 2021) on H.R.
4431, recommends the funding level shown in the HAC column of Table 2. H.Rept. 117-87 states
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Polar Security Cutter (PSC).—The recommendation includes the requested $170,000,000
for a portion of the long lead time materials for a third PSC, which will keep the acquisition
program on schedule. The Committee is committed to the importance of an expanded U.S.
presence in the polar regions, especially the Arctic. (Page 57)
H.Rept. 117-87 also states
Great Lakes Icebreaker Program.—The Coast Guard is tasked by Executive Order to carry
out icebreaking efforts in support of commerce. The Committee is concerned that in recent
years, performance metrics for icebreaking on the Great Lakes has been redefined by the
availability of assets, rather than mission requirements, often with severe economic
impacts. As the Coast Guard begins to define its requirements for the recapitalization of
ice breaking assets in the Great Lakes, the Committee directs the Coast Guard to
incorporate historical measures of performance. Not later than 180 days after the date of
enactment of this Act, the Coast Guard is directed to brief the Committee on such
performance measures and other considerations for planning the recapitalization of assets
in the Great Lakes. (Page 55)
Senate
The Senate Appropriations Committee, in the explanatory statement it released on October 18,
2021, for the FY2022 DHS Appropriations Act (S. XXXX), recommends the funding level shown
in the SAC column of Table 2. The explanatory statement states
Polar Ice Breaking Vessel.—The Committee recognizes the value of heavy polar
icebreakers in promoting the national security and economic interests of the United States
in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Due to delays that are consistent with complex, first-
in-class surface acquisition programs as well as management delays exacerbated by the
global pandemic, the schedule projects that the amount requested for LLTM for the third
heavy polar icebreaker is not necessary in fiscal year 2022. Therefore, the recommendation
does not include $120,000,000 from the request. (PDF page 69 of 160; see also PDF page
145 of 160)
Regarding the Coast Guard’s Operations and Support (O&S) account, funding for which is not
shown in Table 2, the explanatory statement states
Great Lakes Icebreaking [GLIB] Program Management Office.—The recommendation
includes $5,500,000, $3,500,000 above the request for pre-acquisition activities, for a new
Great Lakes icebreaker that is as capable as USCGC MACKINAW. (PDF page 65 of 160)
FY2022 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R 4432)
House
The House Appropriations Committee, in its report (H.Rept. 117-88 of July 15, 2021) on H.R.
4432, states
ICEBREAKERS
The Committee understands that the Coast Guard is expanding its fleet of polar icebreakers
but is disappointed that the Navy has not also considered purchasing either new or used
icebreakers. The Committee directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to the
congressional defense committees not later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act
which details the Navy’s plan to address this capability requirement in fiscal year 2022 and
the future years defense program. (Page 186)
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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).52 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.
FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350/S. 1605 /P.L.
117-81)

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.—

52 Section 8107 of H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283 of January 1, 2021, states
SEC. 8107. PROCUREMENT AUTHORITY FOR GREAT LAKES ICEBREAKER.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated by section 4902(2)(A)(ii) of title
14, United States Code, as amended by section 8101 of this division, $160,000,000 for fiscal year
2021 is authorized for the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker at least as capable as Coast
Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB–30).
(b) REPORT.—Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, 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 plan for
acquiring an icebreaker as required by section 820(b) of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard
Authorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–282).
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(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).
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(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
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(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 (P.L. 117-116–283) 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)
Enacted
The joint explanatory statement for S. 1605/ P.L. 117-81 of December 27, 2021, states:
Great Lakes winter shipping
The House bill contained a provision (sec. 5301) that would require certain reports, pilot
programs, and information collection, as well as authorizing appropriations for icebreakers,
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to improve the safety and commercial utility of the Great Lakes region during the ice
season.
The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.
The agreement does not include this provision. (PDF page 645 of 670)
Arctic Focus Act (S. 3272)
Senate
S. 3272 was introduced in the Senate on November 29, 2021. The text of bill states:
To prioritize icebreaker deployments to the Arctic, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America
in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Arctic Focus Act”.
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—The term “appropriate
congressional committees” means—
(A) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate;
(B) the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate;
(C) the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate;
(D) the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives;
(E) the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives; and
(F) the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.
(2) ARCTIC.—The term “Arctic” has the meaning given such term in section 112 of the
Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 (15 U.S.C. 4111).
SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY REGARDING ARCTIC ACTIVITIES.
In recognition of the Arctic’s strategic importance to the national security interests of the
United States, and the need to exert influence through persistent presence in the Arctic, the
Coast Guard shall—
(1) prioritize icebreaker deployments to the Arctic so that Antarctic deployments do not
occur at the expense of sufficient Arctic presence or operations;
(2) provide sufficient icebreaking activity to keep the Northwest Passage sea lanes open
for commerce, national defense, rescue and recovery operations, and scientific exploration
by 2030;
(3) permanently station at least 1 icebreaking vessel within the Arctic not later than the
earlier of—
(A) the date that is 1 year after the delivery of the first Polar Security Cutter; or
(B) 2030; and
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(4) continuously patrol the Arctic with at least 1 major Coast Guard cutter that is able to
execute search and rescue operations, fisheries enforcement, pollution response, and
support for national defense operations.
SEC. 4. ARCTIC OPERATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION REPORT.
Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the
department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall submit a report to the appropriate
congressional committees that—
(1) describes the ability and timeline to conduct a transit of the Northern Sea Route and
periodic transits of the Northwest Passage; and
(2) includes a plan to implement the activities described in section 3.

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Appendix A. Current U.S. Polar Icebreakers and
Polar Research Ships
This appendix provides background information on current U.S. polar icebreakers and polar
research ships.
Three Coast Guard Polar Icebreakers
Two Heavy Polar Icebreakers—Polar Star and Polar Sea
Polar Star (WAGB-10) and Polar Sea (WAGB-11),53 sister ships built to the same general design
(Figure A-1 and Figure A-2), were acquired in the early 1970s as replacements for earlier U.S.
icebreakers. They were designed for 30-year service lives, and were built by Lockheed
Shipbuilding of Seattle, WA, a division of Lockheed that also built ships for the U.S. Navy, but
which exited the shipbuilding business in the late 1980s.
Figure A-1. Polar Star and Polar Sea
(Side by side in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica)

Source: Coast Guard photograph that was accessed on April 21, 2011, at http://www.uscg.mil/pacarea/
cgcpolarsea/history.asp (link no longer active). The photograph accompanies Kyung M. Song, “Senate Passes
Cantwell Measure to Postpone Scrapping of Polar Sea Icebreaker,” Seattle Times, September 22, 2012, posted at
http://blogs.seattletimes.com/politicsnorthwest/2012/09/22/senate-passes-cantwell-measure-to-postpone-
scrapping-of-polar-sea-icebreaker/.

53 The designation WAGB means Coast Guard icebreaker. More specifically, W means Coast Guard ship, A means
auxiliary, G means miscellaneous purpose, and B means icebreaker.
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Figure A-2. Polar Sea

Source: Coast Guard photograph that was accessed April 21, 2011, at http://www.uscg.mil/pacarea/cgcpolarsea/
img/PSEApics/Ful Ship2.jpg (link no longer active). The photograph accompanies Associated Press, “Reprieve for
Seattle-Based Icebreaker Polar Sea,” KOMO News, June 15, 2012, posted at https://komonews.com/news/local/
reprieve-for-seattle-based-icebreaker-polar-sea.
The ships are 399 feet long and displace about 13,200 tons.54 They are among the world’s most
powerful nonnuclear-powered icebreakers, with a capability to break through ice up to 6 feet
thick at a speed of 3 knots. Because of their icebreaking capability, they are considered (in U.S.
parlance) heavy polar icebreakers. In addition to a crew of 134, each ship can embark a scientific
research staff of 32 people.
Polar Star was commissioned into service on January 19, 1976, and consequently is now more
than 10 years beyond its originally intended 30-year service life. Due to worn-out electric motors
and other problems, the Coast Guard placed the ship in caretaker status on July 1, 2006.55
Congress in FY2009 and FY2010 provided funding to repair Polar Star and return it to service
for 7 to 10 years; the repair work, which reportedly cost about $57 million, was completed, and
the ship was reactivated on December 14, 2012.56
Polar Sea was commissioned into service on February 23, 1978, and consequently is also more
than 10 years beyond its originally intended 30-year service life. In 2006, the Coast Guard
completed a rehabilitation project that extended the ship’s expected service life to 2014. On June
25, 2010, however, the Coast Guard announced that Polar Sea had suffered an engine casualty,
and the ship was unavailable for operation after that.57 The Coast Guard placed Polar Sea in

54 By comparison, the Coast Guard’s new National Security Cutters—its new high-endurance cutters—are about 418
feet long and displace roughly 4,000 tons.
55 Source for July 1, 2006, date: U.S. Coast Guard email to CRS on February 22, 2008. The Coast Guard’s official term
for caretaker status is “In Commission, Special.”
56 See, for example, Kyung M. Song, “Icebreaker Polar Star Gets $57 Million Overhaul,” Seattle Times, December 14,
2012.
57 “Icebreaker POLAR SEA Sidelined By Engine Troubles,” Coast Guard Compass (Official Blog of the U.S. Coast
Guard)
, June 25, 2010. See also “USCG Cancels Polar Icebreaker’s Fall Deployment,” DefenseNews.com, June 25,
2010; Andrew C. Revkin, “America’s Heavy Icebreakers Are Both Broken Down,” Dot Earth (New York Times blog),
June 25, 2010.
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commissioned, inactive status on October 14, 2011. The Coast Guard transferred certain major
equipment from Polar Sea to Polar Star to facilitate Polar Star’s return to service.58
Although the Coast Guard in recent years has invested millions of dollars to overhaul, repair, and
extend the service life of Polar Star, the ship’s material condition, as a result of its advancing age,
has nevertheless become increasingly fragile, if not precarious. During its annual deployments to
McMurdo Station in Antarctica, shipboard equipment frequently breaks, and shipboard fires
sometimes occur.59 Replacements for many of the ship’s components are no longer commercially
available. To help keep Polar Star operational, the Coast Guard continues to use Polar Sea as a
source of replacement parts.
One Medium Polar Icebreaker—Healy
Healy (WAGB-20) (Figure A-3) was funded in the early 1990s as a complement to Polar Star
and Polar Sea, and was commissioned into service on August 21, 2000.
Figure A-3. Healy

Source: Coast Guard photograph accessed August 12, 2019, at https://www.history.uscg.mil/US-Coast-Guard-
Photo-Gallery/igphoto/2002136680/.

58 Source: October 17, 2011, email to CRS from Coast Guard Congressional Affairs office. Section 222 of the Coast
Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (H.R. 2838/P.L. 112-213 of December 20, 2012) prohibited the Coast
Guard from removing any part of Polar Sea and from transferring, relinquishing ownership of, dismantling, or
recycling the ship until it submitted a business case analysis of the options for and costs of reactivating the ship and
extending its service life to at least September 30, 2022, so as to maintain U.S. polar icebreaking capabilities and fulfill
the Coast Guard’s high latitude mission needs, as identified in the Coast Guard’s July 2010 High Latitude Study. The
business case analysis was submitted to Congress with a cover date of November 7, 2013. For more on the High
Latitude Study, see Appendix B.
59 See, for example, Richard Read, “Meet the Neglected 43-Year-Old Stepchild of the U.S. Military-Industrial
Complex,” Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2019; Melody Schreiber, “The Only Working US Heavy Icebreaker Catches
Fire Returning from Antarctica,” Arctic Today, March 2, 2019; Calvin Biesecker, “Fire Breaks Out On Coast Guard’s
Aging, and Only, Heavy Icebreaker,” Defense Daily, March 1, 2019.
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The ship was built by Avondale Industries, a shipyard located near New Orleans, LA, that built
numerous Coast Guard and Navy ships, and which eventually became part of Huntington Ingalls
Industries (HII). (HII subsequently wound down shipbuilding activities at Avondale, and the
facility is no longer building ships.)
Although it is referred to (in U.S. parlance) as a medium polar icebreaker, Healy is actually larger
than Polar Star and Polar Sea—it is 420 feet long and displaces about 16,000 tons. Compared to
Polar Star and Polar Sea, Healy has less icebreaking capability (which is why it is referred to as
a medium polar icebreaker rather than a heavy polar icebreaker), but more capability for
supporting scientific research. The ship can break through ice up to 4½ feet thick at a speed of 3
knots, and embark a scientific research staff of 35 (with room for another 15 surge personnel and
2 visitors). The ship is used primarily for supporting scientific research and conducting other
operations in the Arctic.
Three National Science Foundation (NSF) Polar Research Ships
Nathaniel B. Palmer
Nathaniel B. Palmer
(Figure A-4) was built for the NSF in 1992 by North American
Shipbuilding, of Larose, LA.
Figure A-4. Nathaniel B. Palmer

Source: Photograph accompanying Peter Rejcek, “System Study, LARISSA Takes Unique Approach for Research
on Ice Shelf Ecosystem,” Antarctic Sun (Untied States Antarctic Program), September 18, 2009. A caption to the
photograph states “Photo Courtesy: Adam Jenkins.”
Called Palmer for short, it is operated for NSF by Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) of Galliano,
LA, a firm that owns and operates research ships and offshore deepwater service ships.60 Palmer
is 308 feet long and has a displacement of about 6,500 tons. It has a crew of 22 and can embark a

60 For more on ECO, see the firm’s website at http://www.chouest.com/.
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scientific staff of 27 to 37.61 It was purpose-built as a single-mission ship for conducting and
supporting scientific research in the Antarctic. It is capable of breaking ice up to 3 feet thick at
speeds of 3 knots, which is sufficient for breaking through the ice conditions found in the vicinity
of the Antarctic Peninsula, so as to resupply Palmer Station, a U.S. research station on the
peninsula. The ship might be considered less an icebreaker than an oceanographic research ship
with enough icebreaking capability for the Antarctic Peninsula. Palmer’s icebreaking capability is
not considered sufficient to perform the McMurdo resupply mission.
Laurence M. Gould
Like Palmer, the polar research and supply ship Laurence M. Gould (Figure A-5) was built for
NSF by North American Shipping. It was completed in 1997 and is operated for NSF on a long-
term charter from ECO. It is 230 feet long and has a displacement of about 3,800 tons. It has a
crew of 16 and can embark a scientific staff of 26 to 28 (with a capacity for 9 more in a berthing
van). It can break ice up to 1 foot thick with continuous forward motion. Like Palmer, it was built
to support NSF operations in the Antarctic, particularly operations at Palmer Station on the
Antarctic Peninsula.
Figure A-5. Laurence M. Gould

Source: Photograph accompanying Alchetron, “RV Laurence M. Gould,” updated August 25, 2018, accessed
August 7, 2019, at https://alchetron.com/RV-Laurence-M.-Gould#-.

61 Sources vary on the exact number of scientific staff that can be embarked on the ship. For some basic information on
the ship, see http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/support/nathpalm.jsp;
http://www.usap.gov/vesselScienceAndOperations/documents/prvnews_june03.pdfprvnews_june03.pdf;
http://nsf.gov/od/opp/antarct/treaty/pdf/plans0607/15plan07.pdf;
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/1996/nsf9693/fls.htm; and
http://www.hazegray.org/worldnav/usa/nsf.htm.
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Sikuliaq
Sikuliaq
(see-KOO-lee-auk; Figure A-6), which is used for scientific research in polar areas, was
built by Marinette Marine of Marinette, WI, and entered service in 2015. It is operated for NSF
by the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as part of
the U.S. academic research fleet through the University National Oceanographic Laboratory
System (UNOLS). Sikuliaq is 261 feet long and has a displacement of about 3,600 tons. It has a
crew of 22 and can embark an additional 26 scientists and students. The ship can break ice 2½ or
3 feet thick at speeds of 2 knots. The ship is considered less an icebreaker than an ice-capable
research ship.
Figure A-6. Sikuliaq

Source: Photograph accompanying Lauren Frisch, “UAF Joins International Consortium of Icebreaker
Operators,” UAF [University of Alaska Fairbanks] News and Information, February 6, 2018. A caption to the
photograph states in part: “Photo by Mark Teckenbrock. The research vessel Sikuliaq navigates through Arctic
ice in summer 2016.”
Summary
Table A-1
summarizes the above six ships. In addition to the ships shown in Table A-1, another
U.S.-registered polar ship with icebreaking capability—the Arctic oil-exploration support ship
Aiviq—was used by Royal Dutch Shell oil company to support an oil exploration and drilling
effort (now ended) in Arctic waters off Alaska. The ship, which completed construction in 2012,
is owned by ECO and chartered by Royal Dutch Shell. It was used primarily for towing and
laying anchors for drilling rigs, but is also equipped for responding to oil spills.
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Table A-1. Coast Guard and NSF Polar Ships

Coast Guard
NSF
Laurence

Polar Star
Polar Sea
Healy
Palmer
M. Gould
Sikuliaq
Currently operational?
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Entered service
1976
1978
2000
1992
1997
2015
Length (feet)
399
399
420
308
230
261
Displacement (tons)
13,200
13,200
16,000
6,500
3,780
3,665
Icebreaking capability
6 feet
6 feet
4.5 feet
3 feet
1 foot at
2.5 or 3
(ice thickness in feet) at
continuous
feet at 2
3 knots or other speed
forward
knots
motion
Icebreaking capability
21 feet
21 feet
8 feet
n/a
n/a
n/a
using back and ram (ice
thickness in feet)
Operating temperature

-60o Fahrenheit
-60o
-50o
n/a
n/a
n/a
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit
Crew (when operational)
155a
155a
85b
22
16
22
Additional scientific staff
32
32
35c
27-37
26 to 28d
26
Sources: Prepared by CRS using data from U.S. Coast Guard, National Research Council, National Science
Foundation, DHS Office of Inspector General, and (for Palmer) additional online reference sources. n/a is not
available.
a. Includes 24 officers, 20 chief petty officers, 102 enlisted, and 9 in the aviation detachment.
b. Includes 19 officers, 12 chief petty officers, and 54 enlisted.
c. In addition to 85 crew members 85 and 35 scientists, the ship can accommodate another 15 surge
personnel and 2 visitors.
d. Plus 9 more in a berthing van.
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Appendix B. Required Numbers of U.S. Polar
Icebreakers
This appendix provides additional background information on required numbers of U.S. polar
icebreakers.
June 9, 2020, Presidential Memorandum
On June 9, 2020, President Trump issued a memorandum, “Memorandum on Safeguarding U.S.
National Interests in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions,” which states
Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of
Commerce, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of
the Office of Management and Budget, [and] the Assistant to the President for National
Security Affairs
Subject: Safeguarding U.S. National Interests in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions
To help protect our national interests in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and to retain a
strong Arctic security presence alongside our allies and partners, the United States requires
a ready, capable, and available fleet of polar security icebreakers that is operationally tested
and fully deployable by Fiscal Year 2029. Accordingly, by the authority vested in me as
President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct
the following:
Section 1. Fleet Acquisition Program. The United States will develop and execute a polar
security icebreaking fleet acquisition program that supports our national interests in the
Arctic and Antarctic regions.
(a) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the
Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB), shall lead a review of requirements for a polar security
icebreaking fleet acquisition program to acquire and employ a suitable fleet of polar
security icebreakers, and associated assets and resources, capable of ensuring a persistent
United States presence in the Arctic and Antarctic regions in support of national interests
and in furtherance of the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy, as
appropriate. Separately, the review shall include the ability to provide a persistent United
States presence in the Antarctic region, as appropriate, in accordance with the Antarctic
Treaty System. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of OMB, in executing
this direction, shall ensure that the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) Offshore Patrol
Cutter acquisition program is not adversely impacted.
(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through the Commandant of the Coast
Guard, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, acting through the Secretary of the
Navy, and the Secretary of Energy, as appropriate, shall conduct a study of the comparative
operational and fiscal benefits and risks of a polar security icebreaking fleet mix that
consists of at least three heavy polar-class security cutters (PSC) that are appropriately
outfitted to meet the objectives of this memorandum. This study shall be submitted to the
President, through the Director of OMB and the Assistant to the President for National
Security Affairs, within 60 days from the date of this memorandum and at a minimum shall
include:
(i) Use cases in the Arctic that span the full range of national and economic security
missions (including the facilitation of resource exploration and exploitation and undersea
cable laying and maintenance) that may be executed by a class of medium PSCs, as well
as analysis of how these use cases differ with respect to the anticipated use of heavy PSCs
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for these same activities. These use cases shall identify the optimal number and type of
polar security icebreakers for ensuring a persistent presence in both the Arctic and, as
appropriate, the Antarctic regions;
(ii) An assessment of expanded operational capabilities, with estimated associated costs,
for both heavy and medium PSCs not yet contracted for, specifically including the
maximum use of any such PSC with respect to its ability to support national security
objectives through the use of the following: unmanned aviation, surface, and undersea
systems; space systems; sensors and other systems to achieve and maintain maritime
domain awareness; command and control systems; secure communications and data
transfer systems; and intelligence-collection systems. This assessment shall also evaluate
defensive armament adequate to defend against threats by near-peer competitors and the
potential for nuclear-powered propulsion;
(iii) Based on the determined fleet size and composition, an identification and assessment
of at least two optimal United States basing locations and at least two international basing
locations. The basing location assessment shall include the costs, benefits, risks, and
challenges related to infrastructure, crewing, and logistics and maintenance support for
PSCs at these locations. In addition, this assessment shall account for potential burden-
sharing opportunities for basing with the Department of Defense and allies and partners, as
appropriate; and
(iv) In anticipation of the USCGC POLAR STAR’s operational degradation from Fiscal
Years 2022-2029, an analysis to identify executable options, with associated costs, to
bridge the gap of available vessels as early as Fiscal Year 2022 until the new PSCs required
to meet the objectives of this memorandum are operational, including identifying
executable, priced leasing options, both foreign and domestic. This analysis shall
specifically include operational risk associated with using a leased vessel as compared to a
purchased vessel to conduct specified missions set forth in this memorandum.
(c) In the interest of securing a fully capable polar security icebreaking fleet that is capable
of providing a persistent presence in the Arctic and Antarctic regions at the lowest possible
cost, the Secretary of State shall coordinate with the Secretary of Homeland Security in
identifying viable polar security icebreaker leasing options, provided by partner nations, as
a near- to mid-term (Fiscal Years 2022-2029) bridging strategy to mitigate future
operational degradation of the USCGC POLAR STAR. Leasing options shall contemplate
capabilities that allow for access to the Arctic and Antarctic regions to, as appropriate,
conduct national and economic security missions, in addition to marine scientific research
in the Arctic, and conduct research in Antarctica in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty
System. Further, and in advance of any bid solicitation for future polar security icebreaker
acquisitions, the Secretary of State shall coordinate with the Secretary of Homeland
Security to identify partner nations with proven foreign shipbuilding capability and
expertise in icebreaker construction.
(d) The Secretary of Defense shall coordinate with the Secretary of State and the Secretary
of Homeland Security to continue to provide technical and programmatic support to the
USCG integrated program office for the acquisition, outfitting, and operations of all classes
of PSCs.
Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair
or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof;
or
(ii) the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or
legislative proposals.
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(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to
the availability of appropriations.
(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit,
substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United
States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other
person.62
A September 10, 2020, press report states
The White House dropped a surprise directive in June calling for a new strategy in the High
North, a move applauded by Arctic watchers who've been waiting for an administration to
make the issue a priority….
Yet a month after the report was due to the White House, it’s not clear when, or if, anyone
will see it.
The report, which was to include new designs for a fleet of possibly nuclear-powered
icebreakers, has been submitted to the National Security Council. Yet an NSC
spokesperson did not respond to a query on the timing of a release, and would only say the
report is “under review.”63
A December 3, 2020, press report states
The Coast Guard and its partners are assessing options for additional polar icebreaking
capacity in the next decade beyond current plans pursuant to a directive from the Trump
administration, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said on Thursday [December
3].
The Coast Guard’s current polar strategy calls for six new icebreakers, at least three of
them heavy, and one immediately, and now “The good news is there’s been a conversation
beyond the 6-3-1 strategy,” Schultz said during a virtual address hosted by the Navy
League. “The president and his team have pressed us here since this past summer pulling
together the energy of five cabinet level officials and OMB [Office of management and
Budget] about saying, ‘Hey, what does more capacity for high-latitude work between now
and 2029 look like?’”…
The Coast Guard hasn’t looked favorably in the past on leasing options for ice breakers, at
least not as a permanent solution to its polar requirements. But Schultz said leasing could
fill near-term gaps.
“We clearly don’t want to be looking at leasing options as a replacement for the
procurement of ships that are going to serve us for decades to come, but there might be
some bridging strategies and some leasing options,” he said. “So, we’re working really
hard on that, answering some deliverables over to the White House and hope we can keep
some momentum.”
A Coast Guard spokesman told Defense Daily following Schultz’s speech that the service
and the Navy “have formed a joint working group to assess available foreign and domestic
vessels that would meet short-term mission needs in the Arctic. The Coast Guard is

62 White House, “Memorandum on Safeguarding U.S. National Interests in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions,” June 9,
2020, accessed June 10, 2020, at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/memorandum-safeguarding-u-s-
national-interests-arctic-antarctic-regions/. For press reports about the memorandum, see, for example, David B. Larter,
Joe Gould, and Aaron Mehta, “Trump Memo Demands New Fleet of Arctic Icebreakers Be Ready by 2029,” Defense
News
, June 9, 2020; Paul McLeary, “White House Orders New Icebreaker Strategy For Coast Guard,” Breaking
Defense
, June 9, 2020; Cal Biesecker, “Trump Wants Review Of Polar Security Cutter Needs In Arctic, Antarctic,”
Defense Daily, June 9, 2020.
63 Sarah Cammarata, “Trump’s Arctic Plan Stuck in the Ice,” Politico Pro, September 10, 2020.
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continuing to evaluate all options and provide detailed analysis of icebreaker capacity,
lease options, and long-term strategies to protect vital economic and national security
interests in the Polar Regions.”64
A December 16, 2020, press report stated
The White House National Security Adviser and the Navy may be on the verge of agreeing
to move forward shortly with a plan to lease medium polar icebreakers to fill a near-term
gap in the Coast Guard’s icebreaking needs, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) said last week.
Sullivan, during a Dec. 8 hearing that he chaired that morning on the Coast Guard’s
capabilities in the Arctic, said he spoke earlier that day with White House National Security
Adviser Robert O’Brien, who told him that the U.S. is looking at leasing polar icebreakers
from Finland.
“My understanding is the White House National Security Adviser [and] possibly the Navy
with regard to some of their funding, are looking at moving forward on leases soon,
hopefully as early as the end of this month,” Sullivan told Adm. Charles Ray, vice
commandant of the Coast Guard.
Ray replied that discussions on leasing are part of a presidential directive issued in June,
noting that a joint Coast Guard and Navy group are looking into this.
Later during the hearing, in response to a question from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) about
potentially buying polar icebreakers from NATO allies or friendly Arctic nations, Ray said
the “The bridging strategy that makes the most sense to the Coast Guard at this point is this
potential to lease one of these icebreakers.”
Ray pointed out to Sullivan that the potential leasing strategy is not in place of the Coast
Guard eventually acquiring new polar icebreakers.
A Coast Guard spokesman on Wednesday told Defense Daily that the exact number if
icebreakers that would be leased hasn’t been determined and “depends on individual vessel
availability and capabilities, crew availability, funding, and other factors.” He also said the
options only included medium icebreakers because no heavy icebreakers are currently
available that meet the service’s minimum requirements.…
The Coast Guard spokesman said a bridging strategy is being examined because the first
PSC won’t begin operations until 2027. Any leased vessels, which potentially could be
domestic or foreign flagged, would operate in the Arctic “to project U.S. sovereignty;
protect vital economic and national security interests; and conduct maritime domain
awareness, search and rescue, and other Coast Guard missions,” he wrote in an email
response to questions.…
Ray said that a key shortfall of leasing commercial polar icebreakers is they aren’t built to
military
specifications,
highlighting
communications,
damage
control
and
compartmentalization in case of an incident.
“They’re a different cat,” Ray said. “We would have to do some work to them. It’s not just,
take one off the shelf. If it was, we probably would have done that a long time ago. So,
there will be some work required to make these for the Coast Guard. But with that said, it
is the commandant’s position and our position we will certainly consider this and work to
see what makes sense to bridge this gap.”65

64 Cal Biesecker, “Coast Guard, Partners Assessing Options For More Polar Icebreaking Capacity,” Defense Daily,
December 3, 2020.
65 Cal Biesecker, “Senator Says Decision Could Come Soon to Lease Icebreakers for Coast Guard,” Defense Daily,
December 16, 2020. See also Liz Ruskin, “Trump Administration May Hire Private Ship to Fill Arctic ‘Icebreaker
Gap’ by Year’s End,” Alaska Public Radio, December 14, 2020.
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June 2013 DHS Polar Icebreaker Mission Need Statement
DHS in June 2013 approved a Mission Need Statement (MNS) for the polar icebreaker
recapitalization project. The MNS states the following (emphasis added):
This Mission Need Statement (MNS) establishes the need for polar icebreaker capabilities
provided by the Coast Guard, to ensure that it can meet current and future mission
requirements in the polar regions....
Current requirements and future projections based upon cutter demand modeling, as
detailed in the HLMAR [High Latitude Mission Analysis Report], indicate the Coast
Guard will need to expand its icebreaking capacity, potentially requiring a fleet of up
to six icebreakers (3 heavy and 3 medium) to adequately meet mission demands in the
high latitudes
.... The analysis took into account both the Coast Guard statutory mission
requirements and additional requirements for year-round presence in both polar regions
detailed in the Naval Operations Concept (NOC) 2010.... The analysis also evaluated
employing single and multi-crewing concepts.... Strategic home porting analysis based
upon existing infrastructure and distance to operational areas provided the final input to
determine icebreaker capacity demand.66
While the MNS can be viewed as an authoritative U.S. government statement regarding required
numbers of U.S. polar icebreakers, it can be noted that the key sentence in the above-quoted
passage from the MNS (i.e., the sentence in bold) includes the terms “potentially” and “up to.”
These terms, which are often overlooked in discussions of required numbers of U.S. polar
icebreakers, make the key sentence less ironclad as a requirements statement than it would have
been if the terms had not been included, and could be interpreted as an acknowledgment that the
requirement might amount to something less than three heavy and three medium polar
icebreakers.
It can also be noted, as stated in the above-quoted passage from the MNS, that the MNS was
informed by the High Latitude Mission Analysis Report (HILMAR), and that the HLMAR took
into account not only Coast Guard statutory mission requirements, but additional DOD
requirements for year-round presence in both polar regions as detailed in the 2010 Naval
Operations Concept (NOC). This is potentially significant, because DOD appears to have
subsequently dropped its 2010 requirement for year-round presence in the polar regions.67

66 Department of Homeland Security, Polar Icebreaking Recapitalization Project Mission Need Statement, Version 1.0,
approved by DHS June 28, 2013, pp. 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 12.
67 A September 25, 2017, GAO report on polar icebreakers states the following (emphasis added):
In December 2016, DOD reported to Congress that it had no specific defense requirement for
icebreaking capability because Navy Arctic requirements are met by undersea and air assets which
can provide year-round presence.
—DOD reported in April 2017 that its only potential defense requirement—for the Thule Air Force
Base resupply [mission] in Greenland—is met by the Canadian Coast Guard through a
Memorandum of Understanding with USCG.
—USCG’s 2013 Polar Icebreaker Mission Needs Statement identified polar icebreaker capacity
needs as partly based on the 2010 Naval Operations Concept—[a document that provides] joint
maritime security strategy implementation guidance for the Navy, Marine Corps, and USCG—
which stated that U.S. naval forces had a demand for year-round polar icebreaking presence in the
Arctic and Antarctic.
—In April 2017, DOD joint staff officials confirmed that DOD and Naval defense strategy had
been updated and does not include icebreaking requirements. DOD officials in charge of operations
in the Pacific said that although they do not have a requirement for a heavy icebreaker, icebreakers
play a key role in aiding the icebreaking mission to McMurdo.
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The use in the MNS of the terms “potentially” and “up to,” combined with DOD’s decision to
drop its requirement for year-round presence in the polar regions, together raise a question, other
things held equal, as to whether required numbers of U.S. polar icebreakers might be something
less than three heavy and three medium polar icebreakers. It is also possible, however, that there
have been other changes since the MNS was issued in 2013 that would have the effect, other
things held equal, of increasing U.S. requirements for polar icebreakers. The net result of this
situation appears uncertain.
In recent years, Coast Guard officials have tended to refer simply to a total Coast Guard
requirement for three heavy and three medium polar icebreakers. For example, in the October 25,
2016, summary of a request for information (RFI) that the Coast Guard released the next day to
receive industry feedback on its notional polar icebreaker acquisition approach and schedule, the
Coast Guard states that “the United States Coast Guard has a need for three Heavy Polar
Icebreakers and three Medium Polar Icebreakers with the priority being Heavy Polar
Icebreakers.”68 A requirement for three heavy and three medium polar icebreakers is often
abbreviated as 3+3.
Short of a 3+3 requirement, Coast Guard officials in the past have sometimes stated that, as a bare
minimum number of heavy polar icebreakers, the Coast Guard needs two such ships. For
example, at a November 17, 2015, hearing before the Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats
subcommittee and the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, then-Vice Admiral Charles Michel, the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, stated
during the discussion portion of the hearing that the “Coast Guard needs at least two heavy
icebreakers to provide year-round assured access and self-rescueability in the polar regions.”69
Similarly, at a June 14, 2016, hearing before the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Admiral Michel
testified that “our commandant also testified that we need self-rescue capability for our heavy
icebreaker and that includes the existing Polar Star that we have out there now. So that means at
least two [ships], [and] the High Latitude study says three heavy polar icebreakers is what the
Coast Guard’s requirement is. So that’s kind of where we’re talking about for heavy
icebreakers.”70
A September 25, 2017, GAO report on polar icebreakers states that
the Coast Guard has been unable to address all polar icebreaking requests since 2010. For
example, the Coast Guard reported fulfilling 78 percent (25 of 32) of U.S. government
agency requests for polar icebreaking services during fiscal year 2010 through 2016. Coast
Guard officials cited various factors affecting the Coast Guard’s ability to meet all requests,
particularly the unavailability of its heavy polar icebreakers.71
A July 2018 GAO report stated that
the Coast Guard operates one medium icebreaker, the Healy, which has an expected end of
service life in 2029. Despite the requirement for three medium icebreakers, Coast Guard

(Government Accountability Office, Coast Guard: Status of Polar Icebreaking Fleet Capability
and Recapitalization Plan
, GAO-17-698R, September 25, 2017, p. 20 (briefing slide 11).)
68 Summary of RFI, October 25, 2016, page 2, accessed November 10, 2016, at https://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/
icebreaker/pdf/Acquisition-Strategy-RFI.pdf.
69 Transcript of hearing.
70 Transcript of hearing.
71 Government Accountability Office, Coast Guard: Status of Polar Icebreaking Fleet Capability and Recapitalization
Plan
, GAO-17-698R, September 25, 2017, pp. 2-3. A similar statement appears on page 4.
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officials said they are not currently assessing acquisition of the medium polar icebreakers
because they are focusing on the heavy icebreaker acquisition and plan to assess the costs
and benefits of acquiring medium polar icebreakers at a later time.72
In addition to the HILMAR, a number of other studies have been conducted in recent years to
assess U.S. requirements for polar icebreakers and options for sustaining and modernizing the
Coast Guard’s polar icebreaker fleet.
Polar Icebreakers Operated by Other Countries
In discussions of U.S. polar icebreakers, observers sometimes note the sizes of polar icebreaking
fleets operated by other countries. Table B-1 shows a Coast Guard summary of major icebreakers
around the world; the figures in the table include some icebreakers designed for use in the Baltic
Sea.
Some observers highlight the difference between the number of U.S. polar icebreakers and the
much larger number of Russian polar icebreakers, and characterize the situation as an “icebreaker
gap.”73 Other observers question the relevance of that comparison and characterization.74 In
considering the number of Russian polar icebreakers, factors that may be considered include the
length of Russia’s Arctic coastline and Russia’s use of maritime transportation along its Arctic
coastline to support numerous Russian Arctic communities. (Russia’s Arctic population is
roughly 2 million.)75 Countries with interests in the polar regions have differing requirements for
polar icebreakers, depending on the nature and extent of their polar interests and activities. (The
term icebreaker gap is also sometimes used to refer to a potential gap in time between the end of
Polar Star’s service life and the entry into service of the first PSC, or to discuss options, such as
leasing existing icebreakers, for bolstering U.S. polar icebreaking capability prior to the entry into
service of the first PSC.)76

72 Government Accountability Office, Coast Guard Acquisitions[:] Actions Needed to Address Longstanding Portfolio
Management Challenges
, GAO-18-454, July 2018, p. 13.
73 See, for example, Mike Glenn, “U.S. Icebreaker Gap with Russia a Growing Concern as Arctic ‘Cold War’ Heats
Up,” Washington Times, September 23, 2021; Lin A. Mortensgaard and Kristian Søby Kristensen, “The ‘Icebreaker-
Gap’—How US Icebreakers Are Assigned New, Symbolic Roles as Part of an Escalating Military Competition in the
Arctic,” Safe Seas, January 5, 2021; Christopher Woody, “As US Tries to Close ‘Icebreaker Gap’ with Russia, Its Only
Working Icebreaker Is Making a Rare Trip North,” Business Insider, November 9, 2020; Peter Kikkert, Gaps and
Bridges: The Case for American Polar Icebreakers
, North American Arctic Defence and Security Network, August 12,
2020, 5 pp.; Marc Lanteigne, “So What Is the ‘Icebreaker Gap’ Anyway?” Over the Circle, March 3, 2019; Charlie
Gao, “The ‘Icebreaker Gap’: How Russia is Planning to Build more Icebreakers to Project Power in the Arctic,”
National Interest, August 19, 2018; Dermot Cole, “The US Is Finally Picking Up the Pace to Build a Modern Heavy
Icebreaker,” ArcticToday, April 21, 2018; Craig H. Allen Sr., “Addressing the US Icebreaker Shortage,” Pacific
Maritime
, December 2017: 30-33; Adam Lemon and Brian Slattery, “Standoff in The Arctic: Closing the Icebreaker
Gap,” Newsweek, August 14, 2016; Franz-Stefan Gady, “Will the US Coast Guard Close the ‘Icebreaker Gap’?”
Diplomat, January 14, 2016; Jen Judson, “The Icebreaker Gap,” Politico, September 1, 2015.
74 See, for example, Robert D. English, “Why an Arctic Arms Race Would Be a Mistake,” ArcticToday, June 18, 2020;
Paul C. Avey, “The Icebreaker Gap Doesn’t Mean America Is Losing in the Arctic,” War on the Rocks, November 28,
2019; Chuck Hill, “Horrors, It’s the Icebreaker Gap (cringe),” Chuck Hill’s CG Blog, December 21, 2017; Jeremy Hsu,
“U.S. Icebreaker Fleet Is Overdue for an Upgrade,” Scientific American, June 1, 2017; Andreas Kuersten, “Icebreakers
and U.S. Power: Separating Fact From Fiction,” War on the Rocks, October 11, 2016; Andreas Kuersten, “The
Dangerous Myth of an ‘Icebreaker Gap,’” Defense One, September 6, 2016; Andrew C. Revkin, “The U.S. Icebreaker
Gap is About Arctic Needs, Not About Chasing Russia,” New York Times (Dot Earth New York Times Blog),
September 1, 2015.
75 For additional discussion, see the “Background” section of CRS Report R41153, Changes in the Arctic: Background
and Issues for Congress
, coordinated by Ronald O'Rourke.
76 See, for example, Liz Ruskin, “Trump Administration May Hire Private Ship to Fill Arctic ‘Icebreaker Gap’ by
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Table B-1. Major Icebreakers of the World as of May 1, 2017
(Includes some icebreakers designed for Baltic use)
Total all
In inventory, government owned or
In inventory, privately owned and
types, in
operated
operated
inventory (+
under
45,000 or
20,000 to
10,000 to
construction
45,000 or
20,000 to
10,000 to
more
44,999
19,999

+ planned)
more BHP
44,999 BHP
19,999 BHP
BHP
BHP
BHP
Russia
46 (+11 + 4)
6 (all nuclear
16 (1 nuclear
7

9
8
powered; 2
powered; 5
not
designed for
operational)
Baltic use)
Finland
10

7 (4 designed
1


2
for Baltic
use)
Canada
7 (+2 +5)

2
5



Sweden
7 (+0 +3)

4 (3 designed



3
for Baltic
use)
United States
5 (+0 +3)
2 (Polar Star
1 (Healy)


1 (Aiviq)
1 (Palmer)
and Polar
Sea; Polar
Sea not
operational)
Denmark
4





4 (all 4
designed for
Baltic use)
China
3 (+1 +0)


3



Estonia
2


2 (both



designed for
Baltic use)
Norway
1 (+1 +0)


1



Germany
1 (+0 +1)





1
Chile
1 (+0 +1)


1



Australia
1 (+0 +1)


1



Latvia
1


1 (designed



for Baltic use)
Japan
1

1




South Korea
1


1



South Africa
1


1



Argentina
1


1 (not



operational)
United
0 (+1 +0)






Kingdom
Source: Table prepared by CRS based on U.S. Coast Guard chart showing data compiled by the Coast Guard as
of May 1, 2017, accessed September 14, 2017, at http://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/
Office%20of%20Waterways%20and%20Ocean%20Policy/20170501%20major%20icebreaker%20chart.pdf?ver=
2017-06-08-091723-907.
Notes: BHP = the brake horsepower of the ship’s power plant. A ship with 45,000 or more BHP might be
considered a heavy polar icebreaker, a ship with 20,000 to 44,999 BHP might be considered a medium polar

Year’s End,” Alaska Public Media, December 14, 2020; Government Accountability Office, Coast Guard
Acquisitions[:] Polar Icebreaker Program Needs to Address Risks before Committing Resources
, GAO-18-600,
September 2018, summary page; Norton A. Schwartz and James G. Stavridis, “A Quick Fix for the U.S. ‘Icebreaker
Gap,’” Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2016.
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icebreaker, and a ship with 10,000 to 19,999 BHP might be considered a light polar icebreaker or an ice-capable
polar ship.
July 2017 National Academies (NASEM) Report
A July 2017 report on the acquisition and operation of polar icebreakers by the National
Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) that was directed by Congress in
Section 604 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 4188/P.L. 114-120 of February
8, 2016) concluded the following:
INTRODUCTION
The United States has strategic national interests in the polar regions. In the Arctic, the
nation must protect its citizens, natural resources, and economic interests; assure
sovereignty, defense readiness, and maritime mobility; and engage in discovery and
research. In the Antarctic, the United States must maintain an active presence that includes
access to its research stations for the peaceful conduct of science and the ability to
participate in inspections as specified in the Antarctic Treaty. The committee’s charge...
was to advise the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on an assessment of
the costs incurred by the federal government in carrying out polar icebreaking missions
and on options that could minimize lifecycle costs. The committee’s consensus findings
and recommendations are presented below. Unless otherwise specified, all estimated costs
and prices for the future U.S. icebreakers are expressed in 2019 dollars, since that is the
year in which the contracts are scheduled to be made. Supporting material is found in the
appendices.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Finding: The United States has insufficient assets to protect its interests, implement
U.S. policy, execute its laws, and meet its obligations in the Arctic and Antarctic
because it lacks adequate icebreaking capability.

For more than 30 years, studies have emphasized the need for U.S. icebreakers to maintain
presence, sovereignty, leadership, and research capacity—but the nation has failed to
respond.... The strong warming and related environmental changes occurring in both the
Arctic and the Antarctic have made this failure more critical. In the Arctic, changing sea
ice conditions will create greater navigation hazards for much of the year, and expanding
human industrial and economic activity will magnify the need for national presence in the
region. In the Antarctic, sea ice trends have varied greatly from year to year, but the annual
requirements for access into McMurdo Station have not changed. The nation is ill-equipped
to protect its interests and maintain leadership in these regions and has fallen behind other
Arctic nations, which have mobilized to expand their access to ice-covered regions. The
United States now has the opportunity to move forward and acquire the capability to fulfill
these needs....
2. Recommendation: The United States Congress should fund the construction of four
polar icebreakers of common design that would be owned and operated by the United
States Coast Guard (USCG).

The current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Mission Need Statement (DHS
2013) contemplates a combination of medium and heavy icebreakers. The committee’s
recommendation is for a single class of polar icebreaker with heavy icebreaking capability.
Proceeding with a single class means that only one design will be needed, which will
provide cost savings. The committee has found that the fourth heavy icebreaker could be
built for a lower cost than the lead ship of a medium icebreaker class....
The DHS Mission Need Statement contemplated a total fleet of “potentially” up to six ships
of two classes—three heavy and three medium icebreakers. Details appear in the High
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Latitude Mission Analysis Report. The Mission Need Statement indicated that to fulfill its
statutory missions, USCG required three heavy and three medium icebreakers; each vessel
would have a single crew and would homeport in Seattle. The committee’s analysis
indicated that four heavy icebreakers will meet the statutory mission needs gap identified
by DHS for the lowest cost. Three of the ships would allow continuous presence in the
Arctic, and one would service the Antarctic.
As noted in the High Latitude Report, USCG’s employment standard is 185 days away
from home port (DAFHP) for a single crew. Three heavy icebreakers in the Arctic provide
555 DAFHP, sufficient for continuous presence. In addition, the medium icebreaker USCG
Cutter Healy’s design service life runs through 2030. If greater capacity is required, USCG
could consider operating three ships with four crews, which would provide 740 DAFHP.
The use of multiple crews in the Arctic could require fewer ships while providing a
comparable number of DAFHP. For example, two ships (instead of the recommended
three) operating in the Arctic with multiple crews could provide a similar number of annual
operating days at a lower cost, but such an arrangement may not permit simultaneous
operations in both polar regions and may not provide adequate redundancy in capability.
More important, an arrangement under which fewer boats are operated more often would
require more major maintenance during shorter time in port, often at increasing cost. In
addition, if further military presence is desired in the Arctic, USCG could consider ice-
strengthening the ninth national security cutter.
One heavy icebreaker servicing the Antarctic provides for the McMurdo breakout and
international treaty verification. The availability of the vessel could be extended by
homeporting in the Southern Hemisphere. If the single vessel dedicated to the Antarctic is
rendered inoperable, USCG could redirect an icebreaker from the Arctic, or it could rely
on support from other nations. The committee considers both options to be viable and
believes it difficult to justify a standby (fifth) vessel for the Antarctic mission when the
total acquisition and lifetime operating costs of a single icebreaker are projected to exceed
$1.6 billion. Once the four new icebreakers are operational, USCG can reasonably be
expected to plan for more distant time horizons. USCG could assess the performance of
the early ships once they are operational and determine whether additional capacity is
needed.
USCG is the only agency of the U.S. government that is simultaneously a military service,
a law enforcement agency, a marine safety and rescue agency, and an environmental
protection agency. All of these roles are required in the mission need statement for a polar
icebreaker. USCG, in contrast to a civilian company, has the authorities, mandates, and
competencies to conduct the missions contemplated for the polar icebreakers. Having one
agency with a multimission capability performing the range of services needed would be
more efficient than potentially duplicating effort by splitting polar icebreaker operations
among other agencies.
The requirement for national presence is best accomplished with a military vessel. In
addition, USCG is fully interoperable with the U.S. Navy and the nation’s North Atlantic
Treaty Organization partners. USCG is already mandated to operate the nation’s domestic
and polar icebreakers. Continuing to focus this expertise in one agency remains the logical
approach....
Government ownership of new polar icebreakers would be less costly than the use of lease
financing (see Appendix C). The government has a lower borrowing cost than any U.S.-
based leasing firm or lessor. In addition, the lessor would use higher-cost equity (on which
it would expect to make a profit) to cover a portion of the lease financing. The committee’s
analysis shows that direct purchase by the government would cost, at a minimum, 19
percent less than leasing on a net present value basis (after tax). There is also the risk of
the lessor going bankrupt and compromising the availability of the polar icebreaker to
USCG. For its analysis, the committee not only relied on its extensive experience with
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leveraged lease financing but also reviewed available Government Accountability Office
reports and Office of Management and Budget rules, examined commercial leasing
economics and current interest rates, and validated its analysis by consulting an outside
expert on the issue....
Chartering (an operating lease) is not a viable option.... The availability of polar icebreakers
on the open market is extremely limited. (The committee is aware of the sale of only one
heavy icebreaker since 2010.) U.S. experience with chartering a polar icebreaker for the
McMurdo resupply mission has been problematic on two prior charter attempts. Chartering
is workable only if the need is short term and mission specific. The committee notes that
chartering may preclude USCG from performing its multiple missions....
In the committee’s judgment, an enlarged icebreaker fleet will provide opportunities for
USCG to strengthen its icebreaking program and mission. Although the number of billets
that require an expert is small compared with the overall number of billets assigned to these
icebreakers, more people performing this mission will increase the pool of experienced
candidates. This will provide personnel assignment officers with a larger pool of candidates
when the more senior positions aboard icebreakers are designated, which will make
icebreaking more attractive as a career path and increase the overall level of icebreaking
expertise within USCG. Importantly, the commonality of design of the four recommended
heavy icebreakers will reduce operating and maintenance costs over the service life of these
vessels through efficiencies in supporting and crewing them. Having vessels of common
design will likely improve continuity of service, build icebreaking competency, improve
operational effectiveness, and be more cost-efficient....
3. Recommendation: USCG should follow an acquisition strategy that includes block
buy contracting with a fixed price incentive fee contract and take other measures to
ensure best value for investment of public funds.

Icebreaker design and construction costs can be clearly defined, and a fixed price incentive
fee construction contract is the most reliable mechanism for controlling costs for a program
of this complexity. This technique is widely used by the U.S. Navy. To help ensure best
long-term value, the criteria for evaluating shipyard proposals should incorporate explicitly
defined lifecycle cost metrics....
A block buy authority for this program will need to contain specific language for economic
order quantity purchases for materials, advanced design, and construction activities. A
block buy contracting program with economic order quantity purchases enables series
construction, motivates competitive bidding, and allows for volume purchase and for the
timely acquisition of material with long lead times. It would enable continuous production,
give the program the maximum benefit from the learning curve, and thus reduce labor hours
on subsequent vessels.
The acquisition strategy would incorporate (a) technology transfer from icebreaker
designers and builders with recent experience, including international expertise in design,
construction, and equipment manufacture; (b) a design that maximizes use of commercial
off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment, applies Polar Codes and international standards, and only
applies military specifications (MIL-SPEC) to the armament, aviation, communications,
and navigation equipment; (c) reduction of any “buy American” provisions to allow the
sourcing of the most
suitable and reliable machinery available on the market; and (d) a program schedule that
allows for completion of design and planning before the start of construction. These
strategies will allow for optimization of design, reduce construction costs, and enhance
reliability and maintainability....
4. Finding: In developing its independent concept designs and cost estimates, the
committee determined that the costs estimated by USCG for the heavy icebreaker are
reasonable. However, the committee believes that the costs of medium icebreakers

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identified in the High Latitude Mission Analysis Report are significantly
underestimated.

The committee estimates the rough order-of-magnitude (ROM) cost of the first heavy
icebreaker to be $983 million. (See Appendix D, Table D-6.) Of these all-in costs, 75 to 80
percent are shipyard design and construction costs; the remaining 20 to 25 percent cover
government-incurred costs such as government-furnished equipment and government-
incurred program expenses. If advantage is taken of learning and quantity discounts
available through the recommended block buy contracting acquisition strategy, the average
cost per heavy icebreaker is approximately $791 million, on the basis of the acquisition of
four ships. The committee’s analysis of the ship size to incorporate the required
components (stack-up length) suggests an overall length of 132 meters (433 feet) and a
beam of 27 meters (89 feet). This is consistent with USCG concepts for the vessel.
Costs can be significantly reduced by following the committee’s recommendations.
Reduction of MIL-SPEC requirements can lower costs by up to $100 million per ship with
no loss of mission capability.... The other recommended acquisition, design, and
construction strategies will control possible cost overruns and provide significant savings
in overall life-cycle costs for the program.
Although USCG has not yet developed the operational requirements document for a
medium polar icebreaker, the committee was able to apply the known principal
characteristics of the USCG Cutter Healy to estimate the scope of work and cost of a similar
medium icebreaker. The committee estimates that a first-of-class medium icebreaker will
cost approximately $786 million. The fourth ship of the heavy icebreaker series is
estimated to cost $692 million. Designing a medium-class polar icebreaker in a second
shipyard would incur the estimated engineering, design, and planning costs of $126 million
and would forgo learning from the first three ships; the learning curve would be restarted
with the first medium design. Costs of building the fourth heavy icebreaker would be less
than the costs of designing and building a first-of-class medium icebreaker... . In
developing its ROM cost estimate, the committee agreed on a common notional design and
basic assumptions.... Two committee members then independently developed cost
estimating models, which were validated internally by other committee members. These
analyses were then used to establish the committee’s primary cost estimate....
5. Finding: Operating costs of new polar icebreakers are expected to be lower than
those of the vessels they replace.

The committee expects the operating costs for the new heavy polar icebreakers to be lower
than those of USCG’s Polar Star. While USCG’s previous experience is that operating
costs of new cutters are significantly higher than those of the vessels they replace, the
committee does not believe this historical experience applies in this case. There is good
reason to believe that operating costs for new ships using commercially available modern
technology will be lower than costs for existing ships.... The more efficient hull forms and
modern engines will reduce fuel consumption, and a well-designed automation plant will
require fewer operation and maintenance personnel, which will allow manning to be
reduced or freed up for alternative tasks. The use of COTS technology and the
minimization of MIL-SPEC, as recommended, will also reduce long-term maintenance
costs, since use of customized equipment to meet MIL-SPEC requirements can reduce
reliability and increase costs. A new vessel, especially over the first 10 years, typically has
significantly reduced major repair and overhaul costs, particularly during dry-dock periods,
compared with existing icebreakers—such as the Polar Star—that are near or at the end of
their service life.... The Polar Star has many age-related issues that require it to be
extensively repaired at an annual dry-docking. These issues will be avoided in the early
years of a new ship. However, the committee recognizes that new ship operating costs can
be higher than those of older ships if the new ship has more complexity to afford more
capabilities. Therefore, any direct comparisons of operating costs of newer versus older
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ships would need to take into account the benefits of the additional capabilities provided
by the newer ship.
USCG will have an opportunity to evaluate the manning levels of the icebreaker in light of
the benefits of modern technology to identify reductions that can be made in operating
costs....
6. Recommendation: USCG should ensure that the common polar icebreaker design
is science-ready and that one of the ships has full science capability.

All four proposed ships would be designed as “science-ready,” which will be more cost-
effective when one of the four ships—most likely the fourth—is made fully science
capable. Including science readiness in the common polar icebreaker design is the most
cost-effective way of fulfilling both the USCG’s polar missions and the nation’s scientific
research polar icebreaker needs.... The incremental costs of a science-ready design for each
of the four ships ($10 million to $20 million per ship) and of full science capability for one
of the ships at the initial build (an additional $20 million to $30 million) are less than the
independent design and build cost of a dedicated research medium icebreaker.... In
briefings at its first meeting, the committee learned that the National Science Foundation
and other agencies do not have budgets to support full-time heavy icebreaker access or the
incremental cost of design, even though their science programs may require this capability.
Given the small incremental cost, the committee believes that the science capability cited
above should be included in the acquisition costs.
Science-ready design includes critical elements that cannot be retrofitted cost-effectively
into an existing ship and that should be incorporated in the initial design and build. Among
these elements are structural supports, appropriate interior and exterior spaces, flexible
accommodation spaces that can embark up to 50 science personnel, a hull design that
accommodates multiple transducers and minimizes bubble sweep while optimizing
icebreaking capability, machinery arrangements and noise dampening to mitigate
interference with sonar transducers, and weight and stability latitudes to allow installation
of scientific equipment. Such a design will enable any of the ships to be retrofitted for full
science capability in the future, if necessary....
Within the time frame of the recommended build sequence, the United States will require
a science-capable polar icebreaker to replace the science capabilities of the Healy upon her
retirement. To fulfill this need, one of the heavy polar icebreakers would be procured at the
initial build with full science capability; the ability to fulfill other USCG missions would
be retained. The ship would be outfitted with oceanographic overboarding equipment and
instrumentation and facilities comparable with those of modern oceanographic research
vessels. Some basic scientific capability, such as hydrographic mapping sonar, should be
acquired at the time of the build of each ship so that environmental data that are essential
in fulfilling USCG polar missions can be collected.
7. Finding: The nation is at risk of losing its heavy polar icebreaking capability—
experiencing a critical capacity gap—as the Polar Star approaches the end of its
extended service life, currently estimated at 3 to 7 years.

The Polar Star, built in 1976, is well past its 30-year design life. Its reliability will continue
to decline, and its maintenance costs will continue to escalate. Although the ship went
through an extensive life-extending refit in 2011–2012, the Polar Star’s useful life is
estimated to end between 2020 and 2024. As USCG has recognized, the evaluation of
alternative arrangements to secure polar icebreaking capacity is important, given the
growing risks of the Polar Star losing its capability to fulfill its mission....
8. Recommendation: USCG should keep the Polar Star operational by implementing
an enhanced maintenance program (EMP) until at least two new polar icebreakers
are commissioned.

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Even if the committee’s notional schedule for new polar icebreakers is met, the second
polar icebreaker would not be ready until July 2025.... The committee’s proposed EMP
could be designed with planned—and targeted—upgrades that allow the Polar Star to
operate every year for its Antarctic mission. The necessary repairs could be performed in
conjunction with the ship’s current yearly dry-docking schedule within existing annual
expenditures, estimated to average $5 million. In particular, the EMP would require
improvements in the ship’s operating systems, sanitary system, evaporators, main
propulsion systems, and controllable pitch propellers. In the committee’s judgment, the
EMP could be accomplished within USCG’s average annual repair expenditures for the
Polar Star, which currently range between $2 million and $9 million.77
Coast Guard High Latitude Study Provided to Congress in
July 2011
In July 2011, the Coast Guard provided to Congress a study on the Coast Guard’s missions and
capabilities for operations in high-latitude (i.e., polar) areas. The study, commonly known as the
High Latitude Study, is dated July 2010 on its cover. The High Latitude Study concluded the
following:
[The study] concludes that future capability and capacity gaps will significantly impact
four [Coast Guard] mission areas in the Arctic: Defense Readiness, Ice Operations, Marine
Environmental Protection, and Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security. These mission
areas address the protection of important national interests in a geographic area where other
nations are actively pursuing their own national goals....
The common and dominant contributor to these significant mission impacts is the gap in
polar icebreaking capability. The increasing obsolescence of the Coast Guard’s icebreaker
fleet will further exacerbate mission performance gaps in the coming years....
The gap in polar icebreaking capacity has resulted in a lack of at-sea time for crews and
senior personnel and a corresponding gap in training and leadership. In addition to
providing multi-mission capability and intrinsic mobility, a helicopter-capable surface unit
would eliminate the need for acquiring an expensive shore-based infrastructure that may
only be needed on a seasonal or occasional basis. The most capable surface unit would be
a polar icebreaker. Polar icebreakers can transit safely in a variety of ice conditions and
have the endurance to operate far from logistics bases. The Coast Guard’s polar icebreakers
have conducted a wide range of planned and unscheduled Coast Guard missions in the past.
Polar icebreakers possess the ability to carry large numbers of passengers, cargo, boats,
and helicopters. Polar icebreakers also have substantial command, control, and
communications capabilities. The flexibility and mobility of polar icebreakers would assist
the Coast Guard in closing future mission performance gaps effectively....
Existing capability and capacity gaps are expected to significantly impact future Coast
Guard performance in two Antarctic mission areas: Defense Readiness and Ice Operations.
Future gaps may involve an inability to carry out probable and easily projected mission
requirements, such as the McMurdo resupply, or readiness to respond to less-predictable
events. By their nature, contingencies requiring the use of military capabilities often occur
quickly. As is the case in the Arctic, the deterioration of the Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet
is the primary driver for this significant mission impact. This will further widen mission
performance gaps in the coming years. The recently issued Naval Operations Concept 2010

77 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Division on Earth and Life Studies and Transportation
Research Board, Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs, Letter Report, with
cover letter dated July 11, 2017, pp. 9-20.
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requires a surface presence in both the Arctic and Antarctic. This further exacerbates the
capability gap left by the deterioration of the icebreaker fleet....
The significant deterioration of the Coast Guard icebreaker fleet and the emerging mission
demands to meet future functional requirements in the high latitude regions dictate that the
Coast Guard acquire material solutions to close the capability gaps....
To meet the Coast Guard mission functional requirement, the Coast Guard icebreaking
fleet must be capable of supporting the following missions:
Arctic North Patrol. Continuous multimission icebreaker presence in the Arctic.
Arctic West Science. Spring and summer science support in the Arctic.
Antarctic, McMurdo Station resupply. Planned deployment for break-in, supply
ship escort, and science support. This mission, conducted in the Antarctic summer,
also requires standby icebreaker support for backup in the event the primary vessel
cannot complete the mission.
Thule Air Base Resupply and Polar Region Freedom of Navigation Transits.
Provide vessel escort operations in support of the Military Sealift Command’s
Operation Pacer Goose; then complete any Freedom of Navigation exercises in the
region.
In addition, the joint Naval Operations Concept establishes the following mission
requirements:
Assured access and assertion of U.S. policy in the Polar Regions. The current
demand for this mission requires continuous icebreaker presence in both Polar
Regions.
Considering these missions, the analysis yields the following findings:
The Coast Guard requires three heavy and three medium icebreakers to fulfill
its statutory missions. These icebreakers are necessary to (1) satisfy Arctic winter
and transition season demands and (2) provide sufficient capacity to also execute
summer missions. Single-crewed icebreakers have sufficient capacity for all current
and expected statutory missions. Multiple crewing provides no advantage because the
number of icebreakers required is driven by winter and shoulder season requirements.
Future use of multiple or augmented crews could provide additional capacity needed
to absorb mission growth.
The Coast Guard requires six heavy and four medium icebreakers to fulfill its
statutory missions and maintain the continuous presence requirements of the
Naval Operations Concept.
Consistent with current practice, these icebreakers are
single-crewed and homeported in Seattle Washington.
Applying crewing and home porting alternatives reduces the overall requirement
to four heavy and two medium icebreakers. This assessment of nonmaterial
solutions shows that the reduced number of icebreakers can be achieved by having all
vessels operate with multiple crews and two of the heavy icebreakers homeporting in
the Southern Hemisphere.
Leasing was also considered as a nonmaterial solution. While there is no dispute that the
Coast Guard’s polar icebreaker fleet is in need of recapitalization, the decision to acquire
this capability through purchase of new vessels, reconstruction of existing ships, or
commercial lease of suitable vessels must be resolved to provide the best value to the
taxpayer. The multi-mission nature of the Coast Guard may provide opportunities to
conduct some subset of its missions with non government-owned vessels. However,
serious consideration must be given to the fact that the inherently governmental missions
of the Coast Guard must be performed using government-owned and operated vessels. An
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interpretation of the national policy is needed to determine the resource level that best
supports the nation’s interests....
The existing icebreaker capacity, two inoperative heavy icebreakers and an operational
medium icebreaker, does not represent a viable capability to the federal government. The
time needed to augment this capability is on the order of 10 years. At that point, around
2020, the heavy icebreaking capability bridging strategy expires.78
At a July 27, 2011, hearing on U.S. economic interests in the Arctic before the Oceans,
Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and
Transportation Committee, the following exchange occurred:
SENATOR OLYMPIA J. SNOWE: On the high latitude study, do you agree with—and
those—I would like to also hear from you, Admiral Titley, as well, on these requirements
in terms of Coast Guard vessels as I understand it, they want to have—I guess, it was a
three medium ice breakers. Am in correct in saying that? Three medium ice breakers.
ADMIRAL ROBERT PAPP, COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD: I agree with
the mission analysis and as you look at the requirements for the things that we might do up
there, if it is in the nation’s interest, it identifies a minimum requirement for three heavy
ice breakers and three medium ice breakers and then if you want a persistent presence up
there, it would require—and also doing things such as breaking out (inaudible) and other
responsibilities, then it would take up to a maximum six heavy and four medium.
SNOWE: Right. Do you agree with that?
PAPP: If we were to be charged with carrying out those full responsibilities, yes, ma’am.
Those are the numbers that you would need to do it.
SNOWE: Admiral Titley, how would you respond to the high latitude study and has the
Navy conducted its own assessment of its capability?
REAR ADMIRAL DAVID TITLEY, OCEANORGRAPHER AND NAVIGATOR OF
THE NAVY: Ma’am, we are in the process right now of conducting what we call a
capabilities based assessment that will be out in the summer of this year.
We are getting ready to finish that—the Coast Guard has been a key component of the
Navy’s task force on climate change, literally since day one when the Chief of Naval
Operations set this up, that morning, we had the Coast Guard invited as a member of our
executive steering committee.
So we have been working very closely with the Coast Guard, with the Department of
Homeland Security, and I think Admiral Papp—said it best as far as the specific comments
on the high latitude study but we have been working very closely with the Coast Guard.79
January 2011 DHS Office of Inspector General Report
A January 2011 report on the Coast Guard’s polar icebreakers from the DHS Office of the
Inspector General stated the following:
The Coast Guard does not have the necessary budgetary control over its [polar] icebreakers,
nor does it have a sufficient number of icebreakers to accomplish its missions in the Polar
Regions. Currently, the Coast Guard has only one operational [polar] icebreaker [i.e.,
Healy], making it necessary for the United States to contract with foreign nations to
perform scientific, logistical, and supply activities. Without the necessary budgetary
control and a sufficient number of icebreaking assets, the Coast Guard will not have the

78 United States Coast Guard High Latitude Region Mission Analysis Capstone Summary, July 2010, pp. 10-13, 15.
79 Source: Transcript of hearing.
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capability to perform all of its missions, will lose critical icebreaking expertise, and may
be beholden to foreign nations to perform its statutory missions. The Coast Guard should
improve its strategic approach to ensure that it has the long-term icebreaker capabilities
needed to support Coast Guard missions and other national interests in the Arctic and
Antarctic regions.80
Regarding current polar icebreaking capabilities for performing Arctic missions, the report states
the following:
The Coast Guard’s icebreaking resources are unlikely to meet future demands. [The table
below] outlines the missions that Coast Guard is unable to meet in the Arctic with its
current icebreaking resources.
Arctic Missions Not Being Met
Requesting Agency
Missions Not Being Met
United States Coast Guard
—Fisheries enforcement in Bering Sea
to prevent foreign fishing in U.S.
waters and overfishing
—Capability to conduct search and
rescue in Beaufort Sea for cruise line
and natural resource exploration ships
—Future missions not anticipated to
be met: 2010 Arctic Winter Science
Deployment
NASA
Winter access to the Arctic to conduct
oceanography and study Arctic
currents and how they relate to
regional ice cover, climate, and
biology
NOAA and NSF
Winter research
Department of Defense
Assured access to ice-impacted waters
through a persistent icebreaker
presence in the Arctic and Antarctic81
The report also states the following:
Should the Coast Guard not obtain funding for new icebreakers or major service life
extensions for its existing icebreakers with sufficient lead-time, the United States will have
no heavy icebreaking capability beyond 2020 and no polar icebreaking capability of any
kind by 2029. Without the continued use of icebreakers, the United States will lose its

80 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, The Coast Guard’s Polar Icebreaker Maintenance,
Upgrade, and Acquisition Program
, OIG-11-31, January 2011, p. 1 (Executive Summary). Report accessed September
21, 2011, at https://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/OIG_11-31_Jan11.pdf.
81 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, The Coast Guard’s Polar Icebreaker Maintenance,
Upgrade, and Acquisition Program
, OIG-11-31, January 2011, p. 9.
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ability to maintain a presence in the Polar Regions, the Coast Guard’s expertise to perform
ice operations will continue to diminish, and missions will continue to go unmet.82
Regarding current polar icebreaking capabilities for performing Antarctic missions, the report
states the following:
The Coast Guard needs additional icebreakers to accomplish its missions in the Antarctic.
The Coast Guard has performed the McMurdo Station resupply in Antarctica for decades,
but with increasing difficulty in recent years. The Coast Guard’s two heavy-duty
icebreakers [i.e., Polar Star and Polar Sea] are at the end of their service lives, and have
become less reliable and increasingly costly to keep in service....
In recent years, the Coast Guard has found that ice conditions in the Antarctic have become
more challenging for the resupply of McMurdo Station. The extreme ice conditions have
necessitated the use of foreign vessels to perform the McMurdo break-in....
As ice conditions continue to change around the Antarctic, two icebreakers are needed for
the McMurdo break-in and resupply mission. Typically, one icebreaker performs the break-
in and the other remains on standby. Should the first ship become stuck in the ice or should
the ice be too thick for one icebreaker to complete the mission, the Coast Guard deploys
the ship on standby. Since the Polar Sea and Polar Star are not currently in service, the
Coast Guard has no icebreakers capable of performing this mission. [The table below]
outlines the missions that will not be met without operational heavy-duty icebreakers.
Arctic Missions Not Being Met
Requesting Agency
Missions Not Being Met
NSF
Missions not anticipated to be met: 2010-2011
Operation Deep Freeze – McMurdo Station
Resupply
Department of State
Additional inspections of foreign facilities in
Antarctica to enforce the Antarctic Treaty and
ensure facilities’ environment compliance83
The report’s conclusion and recommendations were as follows:
Conclusion
With an aging fleet of three icebreakers, one operational and two beyond their intended 30-
year service life, the Coast Guard is at a critical crossroads in its Polar Icebreaker
Maintenance, Upgrade, and Acquisition Program. It must clarify its mission requirements,
and if the current mission requirements remain, the Coast Guard must determine the best
method for meeting these requirements in the short and long term.
Recommendations
We recommend that the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and
Stewardship:
Recommendation #1: Request budgetary authority for the operation, maintenance, and
upgrade of its icebreakers.

82 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, The Coast Guard’s Polar Icebreaker Maintenance,
Upgrade, and Acquisition Program
, OIG-11-31, January 2011, p. 10.
83 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, The Coast Guard’s Polar Icebreaker Maintenance,
Upgrade, and Acquisition Program
, OIG-11-31, January 2011, pp. 10-11.
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Recommendation #2: In coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, request
clarification from Congress to determine whether Arctic missions should be performed by
Coast Guard assets or contracted vessels.
Recommendation #3: In coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, request
clarification from Congress to determine whether Antarctic missions should be performed
by Coast Guard assets or contracted vessels.
Recommendation #4: Conduct the necessary analysis to determine whether the Coast
Guard should replace or perform service-life extensions on its two existing heavy-duty
icebreaking ships.
Recommendation #5: Request appropriations necessary to meet mission requirements in
the Arctic and Antarctic.84
The report states that
The Coast Guard concurred with all five of the recommendations and is initiating corrective
actions. We consider the recommendations open and unresolved. The Coast Guard
provided information on some of its ongoing projects that will address the program needs
identified in the report.85
2010 U.S. Arctic Research Commission Report
A May 2010 report from the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) on goals and objectives
for Arctic research for 2009-2010 stated the following:
To have an effective Arctic research program, the United States must invest in human
capital, research platforms, and infrastructure, including new polar class icebreakers, and
sustained sea, air, land, space, and social observing systems.... The Commission urges the
President and Congress to commit to replacing the nation’s two polar class icebreakers.86
2007 National Research Council Report
A 2007 National Research Council (NRC) report, Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World: An
Assessment of U.S. Needs
, assessed roles and future needs for Coast Guard polar icebreakers.87
The study was required by report language accompanying the FY2005 DHS appropriations act
(H.R. 4567/P.L. 108-334).88 The study was completed in 2006 and published in 2007. Some

84 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, The Coast Guard’s Polar Icebreaker Maintenance,
Upgrade, and Acquisition Program
, OIG-11-31, January 2011, p. 12.
85 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, The Coast Guard’s Polar Icebreaker Maintenance,
Upgrade, and Acquisition Program
, OIG-11-31, January 2011, p. 13.
86 U.S. Arctic Research Commission, Report on Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2009-2010, May 2010, p. 4.
Accessed online December 5, 2011, at https://storage.googleapis.com/arcticgov-static/publications/goals/
usarc_goals_2009-10.pdf.
87 National Research Council, Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World, An Assessment of U.S. Needs, Washington,
2007, 122 pp.
88 H.R. 4567/P.L. 108-334 of October 18, 2004. The related Senate bill was S. 2537. The Senate report on S. 2537
(S.Rept. 108-280 of June 17, 2004) stated the following:
The Committee expects the Commandant to enter into an arrangement with the National Academy
of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive study of the role of Coast Guard icebreakers in supporting
United States operations in the Antarctic and the Arctic. The study should include different
scenarios for continuing those operations including service life extension or replacement of existing
Coast Guard icebreakers and alternative methods that do not use Coast Guard icebreakers. The
study should also address changes in the roles and missions of Coast Guard icebreakers in support
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sources refer to the study as the 2006 NRC report. The report made the following conclusions and
recommendations:
Based on the current and future needs for icebreaking capabilities, the [study] committee
concludes that the nation continues to require a polar icebreaking fleet that includes a
minimum of three multimission ships [like the Coast Guard’s three current polar
icebreakers] and one single-mission [research] ship [like Palmer]. The committee finds that
although the demand for icebreaking capability is predicted to increase, a fleet of three
multimission and one single-mission icebreakers can meet the nation’s future polar
icebreaking needs through the application of the latest technology, creative crewing
models, wise management of ice conditions, and more efficient use of the icebreaker fleet
and other assets. The nation should immediately begin to program, design, and construct
two new polar icebreakers to replace the POLAR STAR and POLAR SEA.
Building only one new polar icebreaker is insufficient for several reasons. First, a single
ship cannot be in more than one location at a time. No matter how technologically advanced
or efficiently operated, a single polar icebreaker can operate in the polar regions for only a
portion of any year. An icebreaker requires regular maintenance and technical support from
shipyards and industrial facilities, must reprovision regularly, and has to effect periodic
crew changeouts. A single icebreaker, therefore, could not meet any reasonable standard
of active and influential presence and reliable, at-will access throughout the polar regions.
A second consideration is the potential risk of failure in the harsh conditions of polar
operations. Despite their intrinsic robustness, damage and system failure are always a risk
and the U.S. fleet must have enough depth to provide backup assistance. Having only a
single icebreaker would necessarily require the ship to accept a more conservative
operating profile, avoiding more challenging ice conditions because reliable assistance
would not be available. A second capable icebreaker, either operating elsewhere or in
homeport, would provide ensured backup assistance and allow for more robust operations
by the other ship.
From a strategic, longer-term perspective, two new Polar class icebreakers will far better
position the nation for the increasing challenges emerging in both polar regions. A second
new ship would allow the U.S. Coast Guard to reestablish an active patrol presence in U.S.
waters north of Alaska to meet statutory responsibilities that will inevitably derive from
increased human activity, economic development, and environmental change. It would
allow response to emergencies such as search-and-rescue cases, pollution incidents, and
assistance to ships threatened with grounding or damage by ice. Moreover, a second new
ship will leverage the possibilities for simultaneous operations in widely disparate
geographic areas (e.g., concurrent operations in the Arctic and Antarctic), provide more
flexibility for conducting Antarctic logistics (as either the primary or the secondary ship
for the McMurdo break-in), allow safer multiple-ship operations in the most demanding
ice conditions, and increase opportunities for international expeditions. Finally, an up-front

of future marine operations in the Arctic that may develop due to environmental change, including
the amount and kind of icebreaking support that may be required in the future to support marine
operations in the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage; the suitability of the Polar Class
icebreakers for these new roles; and appropriate changes in existing laws governing Coast Guard
icebreaking operations and the potential for new operating regimes. The study should be submitted
to the Committee no later than September 30, 2005.
The conference report on H.R. 4567 (H.Rept. 108-774 of October 9, 2004) stated the following:
As discussed in the Senate report and the Coast Guard authorization bill for fiscal year 2005, the
conferees require the National Academy of Sciences to study the role of Coast Guard icebreakers.
The earlier House report on H.R. 4567 (H.Rept. 108-541 of June 15, 2004) contained language directing a similar
report from the Coast Guard rather than the National Academies. (See the passage in the House report under the header
“Icebreaking.”)
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decision to build two new polar icebreakers will allow economies in the design and
construction process and provide a predictable cost reduction for the second ship....
The [study] committee finds that both operations and maintenance of the polar icebreaker
fleet have been underfunded for many years, and the capabilities of the nation’s icebreaking
fleet have diminished substantially. Deferred long-term maintenance and failure to execute
a plan for replacement or refurbishment of the nation’s icebreaking ships have placed
national interests in the polar regions at risk. The nation needs the capability to operate in
both polar regions reliably and at will. Specifically, the committee recommends the
following:
 The United States should continue to project an active and influential presence in the
Arctic to support its interests. This requires U.S. government polar icebreaking
capability to ensure year-round access throughout the region.
 The United States should continue to project an active and influential presence in the
Antarctic to support its interests. The nation should reliably control sufficient
icebreaking capability to break a channel into and ensure the maritime resupply of
McMurdo Station.
 The United States should maintain leadership in polar research. This requires
icebreaking capability to provide access to the deep Arctic and the ice-covered waters
of the Antarctic.
 National interests in the polar regions require that the United States immediately
program, budget, design, and construct two new polar icebreakers to be operated by
the U.S. Coast Guard.
 To provide continuity of U.S. icebreaking capabilities, the POLAR SEA should remain
mission capable and the POLAR STAR should remain available for reactivation until
the new polar icebreakers enter service.
 The U.S. Coast Guard should be provided sufficient operations and maintenance
budget to support an increased, regular, and influential presence in the Arctic. Other
agencies should reimburse incremental costs associated with directed mission tasking.
 Polar icebreakers are essential instruments of U.S. national policy in the changing
polar regions. To ensure adequate national icebreaking capability into the future, a
Presidential Decision Directive should be issued to clearly align agency
responsibilities and budgetary authorities.89
The Coast Guard stated in 2008 that it “generally supports” the NRC report, and that the Coast
Guard “is working closely with interagency partners to determine a way forward with national
polar policy that identifies broad U.S. interests and priorities in the Arctic and Antarctic that will
ensure adequate maritime presence to further these interests. Identification and prioritization of
U.S. national interests in these regions should drive development of associated USCG [U.S. Coast
Guard] capability and resource requirements.” The Coast Guard also stated the following: “Until
those broad U.S. interests and priorities are identified, the current USG [U.S. Government] polar
icebreaking fleet should be maintained in an operational status.”90


89 National Research Council, Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World, An Assessment of U.S. Needs, Washington,
2007, pp. 2-3.
90 Coast Guard point paper provided to CRS on February 12, 2008, and dated with the same date, providing answers to
questions from CRS concerning polar icebreaker modernization.
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Appendix C. Great Lakes Icebreakers
This appendix provides a brief discussion of the Coast Guard’s Great Lakes icebreakers.
The Coast Guard’s current Great Lakes icebreaker fleet consists of nine cutters:
 one heavy icebreaker—Mackinaw (WLBB-30), a 240-foot ship displacing 3,500
tons (Figure C-1);
 six 140-foot Bay-class icebreaking tugs displacing 662 tons each; and
 two 225-foot Juniper-class seagoing buoy tenders displacing about 2,000 tons
each that have a light icebreaking capability.91
Figure C-1. Great Lakes Icebreaker Mackinaw

Source: U.S. Coast Guard, “USCGC Mackinaw,” accessed September 11, 2019, at
https://www.atlanticarea.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/District-9/Ninth-District-Staff/Prevention-Division/Cutters/
MACKINAW/.
Although Mackinaw is referred to as a heavy icebreaker, the word heavy in this instance is being
used in the context of Great Lakes icebreaking—Mackinaw is much larger and has more
icebreaking capability than the eight other ships listed above.92 Mackinaw would not, however,
qualify as a heavy polar icebreaker, as it is much smaller and has much less icebreaking capability
than a heavy polar icebreaker.93

91 Source: U.S. Coast Guard, “Ninth Coast Guard District Units,” accessed November 19, 2018, at
https://www.atlanticarea.uscg.mil/Atlantic-Area/Units/District-9/Ninth-District-Units/. A total of 10 cutters are
assigned to the Ninth District, which is responsible for the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and parts of the
surrounding states. The tenth cutter assigned to the Ninth District is a 100-foot inland buoy tender whose primary
missions do not include icebreaking.
92 At continuous speeds of 3 knots, Mackinaw can break ice up to 32 inches thick, the 140-foot icebreaking tugs can
break ice up to 22 inches thick, and the 225-foot seagoing buoy tenders can break ice up to 14 inches thick.
93 As discussed earlier in this report, the Coast Guard’s two heavy polar icebreakers—the operational Polar Star and
the nonoperational Polar Sea, are 399 feet long and displace about 13,200 tons each. Polar Star can break ice up to six
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Some Members of Congress in recent years have expressed interest in bolstering the Coast
Guard’s Great Lakes icebreaking fleet by procuring a second icebreaker with capabilities
generally similar to those of Mackinaw. Interest in this option was reinforced by the winters of
2013-2014 and 2014-2015, which featured particularly high levels of ice coverage on the Great
Lakes.94 A new Great Lakes icebreaker with capabilities generally similar to those of Mackinaw
might have a total acquisition cost of about $350 million. Supporters of procuring an additional
Great Lakes icebreaker with capabilities generally similar to those of Mackinaw argue the
following:
 The 2014 and 2015 ice seasons were a 20-year anomaly, but the Coast Guard
should have a capability for supporting maritime commerce in above-average ice
seasons. About 24% of recent years (11 out of 46 years) featured 75% or higher
ice coverage. The economic consequences of ice-related restrictions on
navigation can be significant.
 The Coast Guard’s Great Lakes icebreaking capability is less sufficient for
meeting winter needs than the size of Coast Guard’s current Great Lakes
icebreaker fleet might suggest because some of the icebreakers are sometimes not
available for duty, because the Coast Guard reports ice-related navigation
restrictions for only some of the area’s commercial waterways and not others,
and because the Coast Guard defines a waterway as restricted or closed when two
commercial ships get stuck in the ice in certain waterways, overlooking instances
where commercial ship operators decline to operate their ships on those waters
because they assess a high risk of the ships getting stuck.
 While the Canadian Coast Guard usually assigns one or more additional
icebreakers to the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes in severe ice seasons,
Canadian Coast Guard ships operating there provide icebreaking assistance to
U.S. commercial ships only under certain circumstances, resulting in only a small
amount of icebreaking assistance being provided to U.S. commercial ships.
In the past, the Coast Guard stated that it did not view the procurement of additional Great Lakes
icebreakers as an urgent near-term acquisition need, given the capabilities of the current Great
Lakes icebreaking fleet, the relatively young age of Mackinaw (which entered service in 2006),
service life extension work being done on the ice-breaking tugs that is designed to add 15 years to
their service lives, and Canada’s own Great Lakes icebreaking capabilities.95 In October 2021,

feet (72 inches) thick at a continuous speed of 3 knots. The Coast Guard states that Mackinaw is equivalent to the
Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley, a Great Lakes-homeported icebreaker and buoy tender that Canada
classifies as a light icebreaker in a comparison conducted across its entire icebreaking fleet, including its Arctic
icebreakers. (U.S. Coast Guard, Great Lakes Icebreaking Mission Analysis, Fiscal Year 2016 Report to Congress,
August 30, 2016, p. 5.)
94 Although interest in procuring a second heavy Great Lakes icebreaker was reinforced by high levels of ice coverage
in the winters of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, interest in Congress in procuring such a ship dates back further than 2013.
See, for example, H.R. 1747 of the 111th Congress, the Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act, which was introduced
on March 26, 2009, reported by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on April 21, 2009 (H.Rept. 111-
81), and agreed to by the House by voice vote on April 27, 2009. A similar bill, S. 1024, was introduced in the Senate
on May 12, 2009.
95 A 2016 Coast Guard report to Congress on the Great Lakes icebreaking mission, for example, stated the following:
The current mix of heavy and medium [Great Lakes] icebreakers is capable of managing priorities
and requests for icebreaking in Tier 1 and 2 waterways. When a severe ice season stresses Coast
Guard asset capabilities, the existing agreement and partnership with Canada fills the capability gap
and brings in extra heavy-icebreaking resources to manage the ice.... [T]he 2014 and 2015 ice
seasons were a 20-year anomaly, consuming almost twice as many cutter resource hours as in any
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however, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Karl Schultz, expressed support for
procuring an additional heavy Great Lakes icebreaker as part of a budget reconciliation bill. At an
October 19, 2021, hearing on Coast Guard oversight before the Oceans, Fisheries, Climate
Change, and Manufacturing subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Committee, the following exchange occurred:
SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN:
Thank you. I want to start this round of questions by talking about the Great Lakes
icebreaker. Climate change does not mean the end of cold winters in the Great Lakes. In
fact, three of the worst Great Lakes ice seasons of the past several decades have occurred
during the last seven years. By one estimate, these three winters cost our region’s
economic—economy approximately $2 billion with 10,000 jobs lost due to reductions in
maritime commerce and the resulting impacts on manufacturers in the region.
Climate change is also contributing to more extreme weather events, larger quantities of
precipitation, and higher lake levels. During the winter, this results in greater risk of
flooding because ice collects in rivers to form ice dams, our communities rely on Coast
Guard icebreakers to break up these ice dams and prevent flooding in our communities.
From transportation to saving lives and property from flooding, we need more icebreakers,
and that's why I’m fighting for a new Great Lakes icebreaker to be funded in our current
budget reconciliation bill. Admiral Schultz, yes or no, do you support funding for a new
Great Lakes icebreaker in the reconciliation package?
COAST GUARD COMMANDANT ADMIRAL KARL SCHULTZ:
Madam Chair, funding in the reconciliation packs [sic: package], absolutely, yeah, in
support of that.
BALDWIN:
Great. I appreciate your support, Admiral. During the time—during the Lake Michigan ice
jam caused flooding last winter, the Coast Guard’s only Great Lakes heavy icebreaker was
not available, and smaller icebreaking cutters struggled to break through that ice jam. While
the Coast Guard eventually accomplished their mission with the current assets, if a second
heavy icebreaker had been available last winter, the Coast Guard could have provided more
flood relief, more quickly, would you agree?
SCHULTZ:
Senator, I don't have all the specifics around that. I would say, clearly, more capacity and
a bigger breaker versus a small breaker, that’s sort of common sense, I would say. You
know, depending on what’s going on at the time, we could find one breaker, you know, in
one part of the Great Lakes, having sailed up there is quite a great distances [sic].

other year since 2005.
The Coast Guard cannot reliably predict the economic impact of maintaining a single heavy Great
Lakes icebreaker. Additionally, given the extreme conditions when ice coverage exceeds 90
percent, it is not clear that shipping delays would be significantly mitigated by an increase in
icebreaking capability. Delays can be associated with several factors such as slow transit speeds,
availability of pilots, and simultaneous and competing demand signals for icebreaking services
across the Great Lakes.
(U.S. Coast Guard, Great Lakes Icebreaking Mission Analysis, Fiscal Year 2016 Report to
Congress
, August 30, 2016, p. 11. The report was required by S.Rept. 114-68 of June 18, 2015, the
Senate Appropriations Committee’s report on S. 1619, the Department of Homeland Security
Appropriations Bill, 2016 (see page 75).)
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But I think, additional capacity—additional heavy capacity and capability is probably a
positive there that could have lend to better outcomes there. Yes.96


Author Information

Ronald O'Rourke

Specialist in Naval Affairs



Disclaimer
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under the direction of Congress. Information in a CRS Report should not be relied upon for purposes other
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copy or otherwise use copyrighted material.


96 Transcript of hearing as posted at CQ.com.
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