U.S., Canada and Finland in new polar icebreaker ICE Pact

Written by Nick Blenkey
ICE Pact announcenent

L to R: President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb, President of the United States Joe Biden and Prime Minister of Canada in Washington D.C. on July 10, 2024. [Photo: Emmi Syrjäniemi/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland]

In a joint statement released today, the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Finland announced their intent to create the Icebreaker Collaboration Effort, or ICE, Pact, which is a trilateral arrangement to collaborate on the production of polar icebreakers and other capabilities. This collaboration is intended to strengthen the shipbuilding industry and industrial capacity of each nation – and build closer security and economic ties among our countries through information exchange and mutual workforce-development focused on building polar icebreakers, as well as other Arctic and polar capabilities.

According to a White House briefing, this arrangement will consist of three initial components: enhanced information exchange between the United States, Canada, and Finland; collaboration on workforce development; and an invitation to allies and partners to purchase icebreakers built in American, Canadian, or Finnish shipyards. Due to the capital intensity of shipbuilding, long-term, multi-ship orderbooks are essential to the success of a shipyard. The governments of the United States, Canada, and Finland intend to leverage shipyards in the United States, Canada, and Finland to build polar icebreakers for their own use, as well as to work closely with likeminded allies and partners to build and export polar icebreakers for their needs at speed and affordable cost. As yards in the United States, Canada, and Finland make significant investments in their domestic capacity to build these vessels for their own needs, ICE Pact invites allies and partners to purchase vessels from American, Canadian, and Finnish shipyards with experience building polar icebreakers. Through diplomatic collaboration, shipyards focused on building polar icebreakers can reach the scale needed to reduce costs for allies and partners that need access to the polar regions.

By the end of the year, the United States, Canada, and Finland will develop a joint memorandum of understanding that will outline a framework for how this arrangement will be implemented within each country – and a mechanism for adding or including additional allies and partners as participants. The process to develop this non-binding arrangement will be conducted through a regular trilateral consultation process during this period.


The U.S. Coast Guard requires polar icebreaking capabilities to support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime, and national security needs in the Polar regions. The U.S. Coast Guard is working to build new heavy icebreakers under the Polar Security Cutter (PSC) Program. These ships will be national assets that ensure access to both polar regions – and will be capable of executing key Coast Guard missions, including defense readiness; marine environmental protection; ports, waterways, and coastal security; and search and rescue. The ships will operate worldwide, alongside the polar icebreakers of America’s allies and partners, and face the range of extreme environmental conditions found in the polar, tropical, and temperate regions.

The Coast Guard is working with Bollinger Shipyards to build the first Polar Security Cutters. The Louisiana-based shipbuilder will continue its effort to deliver new American-made icebreakers to the U.S. Coast Guard’s polar icebreaking fleet. These vessels will be the first American-built heavy icebreakers in over 50 years – and the foundation of the American effort to enhance our surface presence in the polar regions. ICE Pact will continue to support their efforts, and the President’s commitment to build more ships in American shipyards.

Under this trilateral arrangement, says the White House briefing, Canadian, Finnish, and American capacity and know-how for building polar icebreakers will help deliver a fleet of new polar icebreakers for ourselves, our allies, and other partners.

  • The President of Finland released a statement on the ICE Pact and its implications for Finnish industry. You can read that HERE


Bollinger Shipyards, which is currently under contract to build the Polar Security Cutter (PSC) heavy polar icebreaker for the U.S. Coast Guard, praised the White House announcement, noting that, as the first and only shipbuilder in the United States to engineer and construct a heavy polar icebreaker in over 50 years, it will play a critical role in ICE Pact and its efforts to strengthen the polar capabilities of the United States and its allies through the creation of a fleet of polar icebreakers.

“As the premiere builder of American-made polar icebreakers, Bollinger Shipyards is proud to support the United States and our NATO allies with our deep expertise and capacity,” said Bollinger Shipyards president and CEO Ben Bordelon. “We have made, and will continue to make, significant, long-term investments in our facilities, infrastructure and workforce. Our goal is to create a world-class American-owned shipyard capable of producing the first fleet of American-made polar icebreakers in over half a century, and we’re honored that responsibility lies with Bollinger.”

Earlier this year, Bollinger’s Pascagoula workforce exceeded 1,000 employees – a substantial reversal of a decade-long trend of declining employment under the Pascagoula facility’s previous owner, reflecting Bollinger’s commitment to growth, innovation, and investment along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

“Our success in reaching this milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our employees, as well as the strategic initiatives we’ve implemented to expand and grow our workforce and operations,” said Bordelon. “We are incredibly proud that Bollinger Shipyards is a critical part of the industrial base for our military and are honored to play a part in ensuring the national security of our nation.”

Categories: News, Shipbuilding Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,