MARCH 7, 2016 — U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have introduced the bipartisan Coast Guard Icebreaker Recapitalization Act.
The legislation would authorize $150 million for the Coast Guard to refurbish Polar Sea — which has been sitting idle in Seattle's Pier 36 pending government action — as well as require key studies and assessments to speed up and increase U.S. polar icebreaking capacity.
"The United States is already behind in our icebreaking capacity. If we don't act now, we jeopardize our national security, and America's opportunity for economic growth in the Polar Regions and the Pacific Northwest. This bill strengthens the Coast Guard's polar icebreaking capacity by investing in the Polar Sea, and requiring the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan to meet Coast Guard mission requirements in the Arctic," said Senator Cantwell.
"Investing in the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet is critically important to maritime commerce, national security, scientific research, and basic ocean-going safety," Senator Murray said. "I'm proud to keep working to make sure our region and our country have the resources they need to protect our national interests."
Key provisions of the Coast Guard Icebreaker Recapitalization Act:
- Authorize $150 million for the Coast Guard to refurbish Polar Sea.
- Require the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of the Navy, to develop a plan to meet the Coast Guard statutory missions in the Polar Regions. That plan must:
- Identify the vessel specifications, capabilities, equipment, and other needs required for the next generation of heavy polar icebreakers.
- List the specific appropriations required for the acquisition of each icebreaker, for each fiscal year, until the fleet is fully capable of meeting the needs of the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Describe any polar icebreaking capacity gaps that may arise based on the current fleet and current procurement schedule.
- Identify any additional gaps in icebreaking capacity due to current and further delays in new icebreaker construction.
- Requires a Government Accountability Office study on international funding models for government icebreaking services.