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 October 2, 2020
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 medium polar icebreakers. The PSC program has received a total of $1,169.6 million (i.e.,
about $1.2 billion) in procurement funding through FY2020, including $135 million in FY2020,
which was $100 million more than the $35 million that the Coast Guard had requested for
FY2020. With the funding it has received through FY2020, the first PSC is now fully funded and
the second PSC has received initial funding.
The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $555 million in procurement funding for
the PSC program. It also proposes a rescission of $70 million in FY2020 funding that Congress
had provided for the procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th National Security
Cutter (NSC), with the intent of reprogramming that funding to the PSC program. The Coast
Guard states that its proposed FY2021 budget, if approved by Congress, would fully fund the
second PSC.
The Coast Guard estimates the total procurement costs of the three PSCs as $1,039 million (i.e.,
about $1.0 billion) for the first ship, $792 million for the second ship, and $788 million for the
third ship, for a combined estimated cost of $2,619 million (i.e., about $2.6 billion). Within those
figures, the shipbuilder’s portion of the total procurement cost is $746 million for the first ship,
$544 million for the second ship, and $535 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated
shipbuilder’s cost of $1,825 million (i.e., about $1.8 billion).
On April 23, 2019, the Coast Guard-Navy Integrated Program Office for the PSC program
awarded a $745.9 million fixed-price, incentive-firm contract for the detail design and
construction (DD&C) of the first PSC to VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned
by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. VT Halter was the leader of one of three industry
teams that competed for the DD&C contract. The first PSC is scheduled to begin construction in
2021 and be delivered in 2024, though the DD&C contract includes financial incentives for
earlier delivery.
The DD&C contract includes options for building the second and third PSCs. If these options are
exercised, the total value of the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9
billion). The figures of $745.9 million and $1,942.8 million cover only the shipbuilder’s costs;
they do not include the cost of government-furnished equipment (GFE), which is equipment for
the ships that the government purchases and then provides to the shipbuilder for incorporation
into the ship, 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.
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
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.
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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 Icebreakers ........................................................................... 4
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
FY2021 Funding Request ................................................................................................. 12

Service Life Extension for Polar Star ..................................................................................... 12
Issues for Congress ........................................................................................................................ 12
Potential Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Situation ........................................................ 12
FY2021 Funding ..................................................................................................................... 13
Contract with Options vs. Block Buy Contract ....................................................................... 13
Funding Coast Guard Polar Icebreakers through Navy’s Shipbuilding Account .................... 14
Technical, Schedule, and Cost Risk for PSC Program ............................................................ 16
Parent Design and PSC Design ......................................................................................... 17
February 2020 GAO Testimony ........................................................................................ 17

Common Design for Heavy and Medium Polar Icebreakers .................................................. 18
Building Polar Icebreakers in Foreign Shipyards ................................................................... 21
Overview ........................................................................................................................... 21
Laws Relating to Building Ships in Foreign Shipyards .................................................... 21
October 2017 Press Report ............................................................................................... 22
July 10, 2020, Remarks by President Trump .................................................................... 23
June 9, 2020, Presidential Memorandum Concerning Polar Icebreakers ......................... 23
Funding for Purchasing or Leasing Foreign-Built Icebreakers ......................................... 24
Legislative Activity for FY2021 .................................................................................................... 24
Summary of Appropriation Action on FY2021 Funding Request ........................................... 24
FY2021 DHS Appropriations Act (H.R. 7669) ....................................................................... 25
House ................................................................................................................................ 25
FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395) ..................................................... 25
House ................................................................................................................................ 25
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Figures
Figure 1. Rendering of VT Halter Design for PSC ........................................................................ 7
Figure 2. Rendering of VT Halter Design for PSC ........................................................................ 8
Figure 3. Rendering of VT Halter Design for PSC ........................................................................ 9
Figure 4. Rendering of VT Halter Design for PSC ........................................................................ 9
Figure 5. Rendering of SDC Concept Design for Polarstern II .................................................... 10

Figure A-1. Polar Star and Polar Sea ........................................................................................... 29
Figure A-2. Polar Sea .................................................................................................................... 30
Figure A-3. Healy .......................................................................................................................... 31
Figure A-4. Nathaniel B. Palmer ................................................................................................... 32
Figure A-5. Laurence M. Gould .................................................................................................... 33
Figure A-6. Sikuliaq ...................................................................................................................... 34
Figure E-1. Great Lakes Icebreaker Mackinaw ............................................................................. 65

Tables
Table 1. Estimated PSC Procurement Costs .................................................................................... 6
Table 2. Summary of Congressional Appropriations Action on FY2021 Procurement
Funding Request ......................................................................................................................... 25

Table A-1. Coast Guard and NSF Polar Ships ............................................................................... 35
Table B-1. Major Icebreakers of the World as of May 1, 2017 ..................................................... 41
Table C-1. Funding for PSC Program in FY2013-FY2021 Budget Submissions ......................... 55
Table C-2. Funding in Procurement, Construction, and Improvements (PC&I) Account ............. 56

Appendixes
Appendix A. Current U.S. Polar Icebreakers and Polar Research Ships ....................................... 29
Appendix B. Required Numbers of U.S. Polar Icebreakers .......................................................... 36
Appendix C. PSC Program Funding ............................................................................................. 55
Appendix D. Funding Level in PC&I Account ............................................................................. 61
Appendix E. Great Lakes Icebreakers ........................................................................................... 65

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 69

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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 PSC program has received a total of $1,169.6 million (i.e., about $1.2 billion) in
procurement funding through FY2020, including $135 million in FY2020, which was $100
million more than the $35 million that the Coast Guard had requested for FY2020. With the
funding it has received through FY2020, the first PSC is now fully funded and the second PSC
has received initial funding.
The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $555 million in procurement funding for
the PSC program. It also proposes a rescission of $70 million in FY2020 funding that Congress
had provided for the procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th National Security
Cutter (NSC), with the intent of reprogramming that funding to the PSC program. The Coast
Guard states that its proposed FY2021 budget, if approved by Congress, would fully fund the
second PSC.
The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Administration’s FY2021
procurement funding request for the PSC program and the proposed rescission of FY2020 NSC
funding, 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 E. A separate
CRS report covers acquisition of general-purpose cutters (including NSCs) for the Coast Guard.1
Another CRS report provides an overview of various issues relating to the Arctic.2
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.... ”3

1 CRS Report R42567, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke.
2 CRS Report R41153, Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, coordinated by Ronald O'Rourke.
3 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.)
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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.”4
Multiple Missions (Not Just Icebreaking)
The Coast Guard’s polar icebreakers do not simply break ice—they are multimission cutters5 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.6 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.7
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

4 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.
5 Cutters are commissioned Coast Guard vessels greater than 65 feet in length.
6 For a list of the 11 missions, see footnote 4. 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.)
7 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.
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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.”8 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
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.9 Changing ice conditions in Antarctic waters
have made the McMurdo resupply mission more challenging since 2000.10
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.11
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,

8 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.
9 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.
10 National Research Council, Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World, An Assessment of U.S. Needs, Washington,
2007, pp. 6-7, 14, 63.
11 United States Coast Guard, Arctic Strategic Outlook, April 2019, p. 6.
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shipboard equipment frequently breaks, and shipboard fires sometimes occur.12 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
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.13
For additional background information on current U.S. polar icebreakers and polar research ships,
see Appendix A.
Required Numbers of U.S. Polar Icebreakers
Six Ships, Including Three Capable of Breaking Heavy Polar Ice
Coast Guard officials state that the service in coming years will need six PSCs, 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.14
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
are delivered, and to report back to President Trump within 60 days (i.e., by August 8, 2020) on
the results of the review.

12 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.
13 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.
14 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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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 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.15 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 Coast Guard estimates the total procurement costs of the three heavy
polar icebreakers as $1,039 million (i.e., about $1.0 billion) for the first ship, $792 million for the
second ship, and $788 million for the third ship, for a combined estimated cost of $2,619 million
(i.e., about $2.6 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

15 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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(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).
Program Funding
The PSC program has received a total of $1,169.6 million (i.e., about $1.2 billion) in procurement
funding through FY2020. In FY2020, Congress provided $135 million for the program, which
was $100 million more than the $35 million that the Coast Guard had requested. The figure of
$1,169.6 million includes $300 million that was provided through the Navy’s shipbuilding
account in FY2017 and FY2018 ($150 million each year). With the funding it has received
through FY2020, the first PSC is now fully funded and the second PSC has received initial
funding.
For additional background information on funding for the PSC program, see Appendix C.
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)
213
165
168
546
Post-delivery costs
45
47
48
140
Costs for Navy-Type, Navy-Owned (NTNO) equipment
35
36
37
108
TOTAL
1,039
792
788
2,619
Source: U.S. Navy information paper on PSC program, undated, received from Navy Office of Legislative
Affairs, June 14, 2019.
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 June 24, 2019, at https://media.defense.gov/2017/Mar/15/2001716816/-1/-1/0/
CI_7100_2G.PDF.) The Navy information paper states that program costs, post-delivery costs, and NTNO costs
were taken from the Program Life Cycle Cost Estimate (PLCCE) and were in the process of being updated based
on the contract award, the contractor’s schedule, and refined cost estimates.
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 VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, MS, a shipyard owned
by Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering. VT Halter was the leader of one of three industry
teams that competed for the DD&C contract; the 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.16

16 “Mississippi Shipyard Gets $746M Contract for Icebreaker,” Associated Press, April 23, 2019.
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The first PSC is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and be delivered in 2024, though the
DD&C contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery. The DD&C contract includes
options for building the second and third PSCs. If these options are exercised, the total value of
the contract would increase to $1,942.8 million (i.e., about $1.9 billion).17 The figures of $745.9
million and $1,942.8 million cover 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, or government
program-management costs.
Ship Design
Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, and Figure 4 show renderings of VT Halter’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.18
Figure 1. Rendering of VT Halter 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.”
A May 7, 2019, press release from VT Halter about its design for the PSC (which VT Halter
updated on May 29 to provide a corrected figure for the design’s full load displacement) stated
the following:

17 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.
18 Rich Abott, “Polar Icebreaker Winner Meets Threshold Requirements, Has Incentives For Early Delivery,” Defense
Daily
, April 25, 2019.
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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,19 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.20
Figure 2. Rendering of VT Halter Design for PSC

Source: Il ustration posted by Robert A. Socha, Senior Vice President, VT Halter Marine, accessed May 6, 2019,
at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6526621529113976832.
The German icebreaker design referred to in VT Halter’s press release, Polar Stern II (also
spelled Polarstern II) (Figure 5),21 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.”22

19 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.
20 VT Halter press release, “VT Halter Marine Awarded the USCG Polar Security Cutter,” May 7, 2019, updated 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.
21 Polarstern is the German word for Polar Star—coincidentally, the same name as the U.S. Coast Guard’s operational
heavy polar icebreaker.
22 Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, “Call for tender procedure for the
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Figure 3. Rendering of VT Halter 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 VT Halter
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 VT Halter 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.

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 .
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Figure 5. Rendering of SDC Concept Design for Polarstern II

Source: 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.23 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.24 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
(including payload) of about 26,000 tons.25 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.

23 Calvin Biesecker, “Long-Lead Funding In FY ‘20 For Second Polar Security Cutter Would Help With Planning,
Shipbuilder Says,” Defense Daily, May 9, 2019.
24 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.
25 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.
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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 capabilities26 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.27
VT Halter’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. VT Halter’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 VT Halter’s design—more than 45,200,
according to the earlier-quoted May 7, 2019 press release from VT Halter—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, VT Halter’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 VT Halter’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.
“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.”28

26 C5I stands for command, control, communications, computers, collaboration, and intelligence.
27 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.
28 Sam LaGrone, “VT Halter Marine Details Coast Guard Icebreaker Bid,” USNI News, May 8, 2019.
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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.29
FY2021 Funding Request
The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $555 million in procurement funding for
the PSC program. It also proposes a rescission of $70 million in FY2020 funding that Congress
had provided for the procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th National Security
Cutter (NSC), with the intent of reprogramming that funding to the PSC program. The Coast
Guard states that its proposed FY2021 budget, if approved by Congress, would fully fund the
second 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.30
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
FY2021 budget is the third 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
Potential Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Situation
One issue for Congress concerns the potential impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) 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.

29 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.
30 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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FY2021 Funding
Another issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Coast Guard’s $555-
million FY2021 procurement funding request for the PSC program and the Coast Guard’s
proposal in its FY2021 budget submission for a rescission of $70 million in FY2020 funding
provided for the procurement of LLTM for a 12th NSC, with the intent of reprogramming that
funding to the PSC program. In considering this issue, Congress may consider, among other
things, whether the Coast Guard has accurately priced the work it is proposing to do in the PSC
program in FY2021, and whether a 12th NSC is to be procured. (The question of whether a 12th
NSC is to be procured is discussed further in the CRS report that tracks the Coast Guard’s
general-purpose cutter procurement programs.31)
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 VT Halter 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 to 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,32 and in return reduce the combined acquisition cost of the ships
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.33 CRS estimates that compared to costs using a contract with

31 See CRS Report R42567, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald
O'Rourke.
32 Stated more fully, from a congressional perspective, trade-offs in using block buy contracting include the following:
—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.
33 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.
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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.34
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 FY2020 was
provided through the SCN account in FY2017 and FY2018 ($150 million each year). A May 2018
Government Accountability Office (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.”35
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

34 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.
35 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.
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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.36
 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.37
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.

36 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
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.)
37 Source: Navy information paper dated August 15, 2017, provided to CRS by Navy Office of Legislative Affairs on
August 23, 2017.
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(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.38
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)
Technical, Schedule, and Cost Risk for PSC Program
Another potential issue for Congress concerns technical, schedule, and cost risk in the PSC
program.

38 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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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, VT Halter 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, VT
Halter 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:
 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
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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
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 2020.39
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 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 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

39 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.
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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
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
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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.40
If policymakers decide to procure a second new medium polar icebreaker or a third new medium
polar icebreaker, the same general approach recommended by the NASEM report could be
followed—a second medium polar icebreaker and third medium polar icebreaker could be built to
the same common design used for the three new heavy polar icebreakers and the first new
medium polar icebreaker.
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

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. 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.41
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.42 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
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.43 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.

41 Calvin Biesecker, “Coast Guard Leaving Options Open For Future Polar Icebreaker Fleet Type,” Defense Daily,
April 12, 2018. Ellipse as in original.
42 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.
43 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.
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(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,44 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.
(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.”45

44 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.”
45 Yereth Rosen, “Can the U.S. Benefit from Finland and Russia’s Icebreaker Expertise?” Arctic Now, October 9, 2017.
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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
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.46
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 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

46 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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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
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 FY2021
Summary of Appropriation Action on FY2021 Funding Request
The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $555 million in procurement funding for
the PSC program. It also proposes a rescission of $70 million in FY2020 funding that Congress
had provided for the procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th National Security
Cutter (NSC), with the intent of reprogramming that funding to the PSC program. Table 2
summarizes congressional appropriation action on the program’s FY2021 funding request.



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Table 2. Summary of Congressional Appropriations Action on
FY2021 Procurement Funding Request
(millions of dollars)

Request
HAC
SAC
Conf.
Procurement funding
555
555


Source: Table prepared by CRS, based on Coast Guard’s FY2021 budget submission, HAC and SAC committee
reports, and conference report on FY2021 DHS Appropriations Act. HAC is House Appropriations Committee;
SAC is Senate Appropriations Committee; Conf. is conference agreement.
FY2021 DHS Appropriations Act (H.R. 7669)
House
The House Appropriations Committee, in its report (H.Rept. 116-458 of July 20, 2020) on H.R.
7669, recommended the funding level shown in the HAC column of Table 2. H.Rept. 116-458
states:
Polar Security Cutter (PSC).—The recommendation includes the requested $555,000,000
for the procurement of a second PSC. The Committee is committed to the importance of a
U.S. presence in the polar regions, especially the Arctic, and is pleased to be able to
continue to advance the procurement of these assets. (Page 48)
FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395)
House
Division H of H.R. 6395 is the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020,
which includes the provisions discussed below.
Section 8005(a) authorizes FY2020 and FY2021 appropriations for procurement of NSCs.
Section 8005(b) states:
(b) Prohibition on contracts or use of funds for development of common hull design.—
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of the department in which the
Coast Guard is operating may not enter into any contract for, and no funds shall be
obligated or expended on, the development of a common hull design for medium Polar
Security Cutters and Great Lakes icebreakers.
Section 8006 states:
SEC. 8006. Sense of the Congress on need for new Great Lakes icebreaker.
(a) Findings.—The Congress finds the following:
(1) The Great Lakes shipping industry is crucial to the American economy, including the
United States manufacturing base, providing important economic and national security
benefits.
(2) A recent study found that the Great Lakes shipping industry supports 237,000 jobs and
tens of billions of dollars in economic activity.
(3) United States Coast Guard icebreaking capacity is crucial to full utilization of the Great
Lakes shipping system, as during the winter icebreaking season up to 15 percent of annual
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cargo loads are delivered, and many industries would have to reduce their production if
Coast Guard icebreaking services were not provided.
(4) Six of the Coast Guard’s nine icebreaking cutters in the Great Lakes are more than 30
years old and are frequently inoperable during the winter icebreaking season, including
those that have completed a recent service life extension program.
(5) During the previous 10 winters, Coast Guard Great Lakes icebreaking cutters have been
inoperable for an average of 65 cutter-days during the winter icebreaking season, with this
annual lost capability exceeding 100 cutter days, with a high of 246 cutter days during the
winter of 2017–2018.
(6) The 2019 ice season provides further proof that current Coast Guard icebreaking
capacity is inadequate for the needs of the Great Lakes shipping industry, as only six of the
nine icebreaking cutters are operational, and millions of tons of cargo was not loaded or
was delayed due to inadequate Coast Guard icebreaking assets during a historically average
winter for Great Lakes ice coverage.
(7) The Congress has authorized the Coast Guard to acquire a new Great Lakes icebreaker
as capable as Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB–30), the most capable Great Lakes
icebreaker, and $10 million has been appropriated to fund the design and initial acquisition
work for this icebreaker.
(8) The Coast Guard has not initiated a new acquisition program for this Great Lakes
icebreaker.
(b) Sense of the Congress.—It is the sense of the Congress of the United States that a new
Coast Guard icebreaker as capable as Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB–30) is needed
on the Great Lakes, and the Coast Guard should acquire this icebreaker as soon as possible.
Section 8007 states:
SEC. 8007. 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 8001 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 USCGC 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).
Section 8008 states:
SEC. 8008. 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
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Medicine’s Committee on Polar Icebreaker Cost Assessment letter report entitled
“Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs” and dated
July 11, 2017.
Section 8011 states:
SEC. 8011. Polar icebreakers.
(a) In general.—Section 561 of title 14, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
Ҥ 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.—
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“(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
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.

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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),47 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/.

47 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.48 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, 2006.49
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, 2012.50
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.51 The Coast Guard placed Polar Sea in

48 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.
49 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.”
50 See, for example, Kyung M. Song, “Icebreaker Polar Star Gets $57 Million Overhaul,” Seattle Times, December 14,
2012.
51 “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.52
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.53 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/.

52 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.
53 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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