Marine Log

April 11, 2006

$100 million for USCG icebreakers?

Someone has woken up to the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreaking capabilities are woefully in need of an update and an upgrade.

Section 210 of the conference report on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006 says:

(a) Operation and Maintenance Plan--Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall submit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a plan--

(1) for operation and maintenance after fiscal year 2006 of the Coast Guard polar icebreakers POLAR STAR, POLAR SEA, and HEALY, that does not rely on the transfer of funds to the Coast Guard by any other Federal agency; and

(2) for the long-term recapitalization of these assets.

(b) Necessary Measures--The Secretary shall take all necessary measures to ensure that the Coast Guard maintains, at a minimum, its current vessel capacity for carrying out ice breaking in the Arctic and Antarctic, Great Lakes, and New England regions, including the necessary funding for operation and maintenance of such vessels, until it has implemented the long-term recapitalization of the Coast Guard polar icebreakers POLAR STAR, POLAR SEA, and HEALY in accordance with the plan submitted under subsection (a).

(c) Reimbursement--Nothing in this section shall preclude the Secretary from seeking reimbursement for operation and maintenance costs of such polar icebreakers from other Federal agencies and entities, including foreign countries, that benefit from the use of the icebreakers.

(d) Authorization of Appropriations--There is authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2006 to the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating $100,000,000 to carry out this section with respect to the polar icebreakers referred to in subsection (a).

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