Coast Guard Receives $655M in FY 2019 Funds for New Heavy Icebreaker

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Congress has earmarked $655M in fiscal year 2019 funds for the construction of the lead ship for the U.S. Coast Guard’s new fleet of Polar Security Cutters to aid Arctic missions, USNI News reported Friday. The Coast Guard will also receive $20M to procure long lead time materials for a second heavy icebreaker under the Department of Homeland Security’s FY 2019 appropriations measure.

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The service branch said in a statement that it plans to have a fleet of six polar icebreakers, three of which must be heavy icebreakers. “Diminishing Arctic sea ice is expanding access to the region and attracting attention from both partner and rival states across the globe,” the Coast Guard said in the statement.

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According to USCG, increased maritime activities due to resource extraction, tourism, commercial shipping, fisheries and traditional Alaskan activities warrant a greater need for Coast Guard presence in the area. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, America’s only heavy icebreaker, was commissioned in 1976 and has been operational for more than four decades. The second USCG Polar Sea icebreaker stopped operating since 2010 due to an engine failure.

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