Page 10: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (November 2016)

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GOVERNMENT UPDATE

America Needs Icebreakers ussia has more polar icebreakers tive presence over an area of the Arctic make a meaningful appearance.

than the rest of the world com- much greater than that of the U.S. Arctic The Coast Guard believes that six ice-

The Author

Rbined. America has one polar waters. As with the U.S. situation, the breakers are needed to satisfy the stra- icebreaker and that one is well past its Canadian government has committed to tegic needs of the U.S. in the polar re- prime. There has been talk of sharing construction of a replacement icebreak- gions. For now, though, it will settle for icebreakers. Sharing may work with er, but funding has yet to be identi? ed. one new polar icebreaker. Its ‘needs list’ allies, who are generally on the same The time is long overdue for the Ad- provides for a vessel that can move at a page. Sharing will not work with Rus- ministration and Congress to work to- continuous speed of three knots through sia, which views the world as a zero-sum ward the common goal of reasserting the six-feet-thick ice and, by backing and game. U.S. in the polar regions. At the end of ramming, break through a 21-foot-thick

In June 2016, Russia announced the World War II, the U.S. had the largest ice ridge. It must be able to operate in launching of Arktika, the world’s larg- ? eet of icebreakers in the world. Those air temperatures from -72° F to 114° F est polar icebreaker. With a full load icebreakers were not nearly as capable as and in water temperatures from 28.8° F displacement of 33,540 tons, a length of modern technology now allows, but they to 87° F. With a crew of approximately 173.3 meters and a breadth of 34 meters, got the job done. They facilitated the ex- 100, plus scienti? c personnel, it must be it will be capable of breaking ice up to ploration of the Antarctic and the build- capable of deployment for at least 80

DENNIS BRYANT 2.9 meters. Sea trials are scheduled for ing of the Dew Line, among other things. days. It must be able to launch, land, and 2017. It is planned as the ? rst of a series, Not long after the polar icebreakers support helicopters and to tow ocean-

Dennis L. Bryant is with Bryant’s Mari- with the keel of the ? rst of the sister ships USCGC Polar Star and USCG Polar Sea going vessels in the ice. It must also be time Consulting, and a regular contribu- already laid. Russia also announced that entered active service in 1976 and 1977 capable of supporting a wide range of tor to Maritime Reporter & Engineering it is developing a design for an even respectively, the last of the Wind class scienti? c activity.

News as well as online at MaritimePro- more powerful class of icebreakers, ca- icebreakers, as well as the USS/USCG The Coast Guard envisions its ice- fessional.com. pable of navigating through ice four to Glacier, were decommissioned. The Po- breakers to be equipped with .50 caliber t: 1 352 692 5493 ? ve meters thick and able to transit the lar Sea was taken out of service in 2010 machine guns. I advocate that they be e: dennis.l.bryant@gmail.com

Northern Sea Route year-round. due to major engineering problems. The designed so that heavier weapons can

For several years, the National Science medium icebreaker USCGC Healy en- installed quickly, should the need arise.

Foundation (NSF), administrators of the tered service in 1999, but its ability to Nuclear power would provide a num-

U.S. Antarctic Program, chartered a Rus- operate in heavy ice is limited, as evi- ber of advantages, but is impractical for sian icebreaker each Antarctic summer denced by the dif? culty experienced in U.S. icebreakers for a number of reasons. to support its annual resupply voyages escorting the tanker bringing emergency While the Administration has limited to McMurdo Station, called Operation fuel to Nome in January 2012. its request to funding for one new ice-

Deep Freeze. Support is now provided The current situation did not occur breaker, Representative Duncan Hunter maritime traf? c through the Northern

Sea Route north of Russia and through by the one USCG polar icebreaker. overnight. Many have warned of the (R-CA), chair of the House Subcommit- the Northwest Passage north of Alaska

The Chinese government has an ice- problem, but few have listened and none tee on Coast Guard and Maritime Trans- and the Canadian mainland. The recent capable research vessel – Xue Long have acted. The various Administra- portation, has called for funding for mul- (Snow Dragon). The vessel conducts tions have not, until now, budgeted for tiple icebreakers. I recommend that the transit of the cruise ship Crystal Seren- research and mission support in both the construction of a new icebreaker. Con- U.S. commit itself to the construction ity through the Northwest Passage has

Antarctic and the Arctic. It is able to run gress has conducted several hearings, of one new polar icebreaker every ? ve highlighted the dire status of Arctic in- at 1.5 knots in ice up to three feet thick. but never, until now, shown interest in years for the foreseeable future. Thus, frastructure. Charts of those waters are

A second, more capable vessel is under appropriating funds. It is doubtful if this as one of the ? eet of six icebreakers inadequate. Search and rescue capabil- construction. Other nations, such as Ar- Administration and this Congress, both reaches the end of its service life, there ity is sparse. Pollution response and sal- gentina, Australia, Chile, France, South in their last few months, will actually ap- will be a new replacement coming down vage capability is virtually nonexistent.

The U.S. Navy has no ice-capable sur-

Africa, and the U.K. have ice-capable propriate the monies needed to do any the ways. Since building of a new ice- vessels that operate in Antarctic waters. more than kick the can down the road. breaker is projected to take ? ve years, face vessels. It relies wholly on the U.S.

The U.S. Coast Guard has a strong The US Coast Guard has drawn up a this suggested construction program Coast Guard for surface vessel force working relationship with its northern basic plan for construction of a new po- could hit a sweet spot. This program projection in the polar regions, except counterpart – the Canadian Coast Guard. lar icebreaker, but this is the most that it would also encourage US shipyards to when those waters are relatively ice-free.

In fact, the two entities not infrequently can do without Congressional approval. take the project seriously and plan for Given the current state of the USCG ice- breaker ? eet, American national security conduct joint operations in the Arctic. President Obama recently announced the long term rather than as a one-off ef-

The Canadian Coast Guard has one op- steps to accelerate the acquisition of ad- fort. Congress recently appropriated $7 and homeland security in the polar re- erational polar icebreaker. CCG Louis ditional icebreakers and there has been million for preliminary design work on a gions is at risk.

America needs icebreakers, not more

St. Laurent was commissioned 49 years increasing support for this initiative in new polar icebreaker.

ago. It is expected to provide an effec- Congress, but Mister Green has yet to Climate change has allowed increased talk.

10 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • NOVEMBER 2016

MR #11 (10-17).indd 10 11/3/2016 4:22:12 PM

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