Alaska, Washington to Build Arctic Icebreakers
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Senator Maria Cantwell, Washington, have introduced a bill that would authorize the Navy to build up six icebreakers for use by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The senators believe that the Coast Guard and the Navy need the icebreakers — which cost billions of dollars — to complete their missions and keep up with Russia and China’s growing icebreaker fleets and activity in the Arctic.
“Icebreakers protect America’s Arctic interests and support Washington state shipbuilding jobs,” Cantwell said in a statement.
Senator Dan Sullivan has signed on to co-sponsor the bill, barentsobserver.com reports.
Currently the U.S. has two working icebreakers: the recently retrofitted heavy-duty icebreaker Polar Star and the medium-duty research vessel Healy.
“As an Arctic nation, America must be a global leader towards an Arctic future,” Murkowski said, pointing to existing investments in the Arctic by Russia, Canada, China and India. “From a military perspective, this is an imperative; from an economic development viewpoint, it is a down payment on an Arctic future, and as a scientific research opportunity, it opens up a new world of knowledge.”