Tag Archives: new icebreaker

On the rocks

So China just launched their first domestically-produced icebreaker, joining a c.1994 Russian-built unit, the 21,000-ton Xue Long (Snow Dragon) previously purchased to double the size of their fleet operating on their new “Polar Silk Road.”

Xue Long II

Named Xue Long 2 (way to branch out) the new 14,000-ton ship is larger than our only true polar icebreaker, USCGC Polar Star, not to mention being about 50-years newer.

Meanwhile, Canada last month picked up a trio of new (to them) medium icebreakers from commercial trade for a song from a company in Sweden. Commissioned into the Canadian Coast Guard, they will revitalize that force until new purpose-built ships can be made.

The new-ish Canadian breakers, soon to be painted red and white

Good thing the USCG isn’t having a problem getting new, modern breakers through Congress.

Oh, wait.

Bonus: Why icebreaking matters, from Matt Hein, a Surface Warfare Officer currently studying for his Masters in Security Studies at Georgetown University.

USCG awards not 1 or 2 or 3 but 5 (five!) contracts for heavy polar icebreaker industry studies

USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280) at anchor probably in the vicinity of San Pedro, CA., in July 1944 sometime before or after her commissioning on 15 July 1944. Photo by Navsource

USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280) at anchor probably in the vicinity of San Pedro, CA., in July 1944 sometime before or after her commissioning on 15 July 1944. Photo by Navsource

This just in:

The U.S. Coast Guard awarded five firm fixed-price contracts for heavy polar icebreaker design studies and analysis Wednesday. The contracts were awarded to the following recipients: Bollinger Shipyards, LLC, Lockport, Louisiana; Fincantieri Marine Group, LLC, Washington, District of Columbia; General Dynamics/National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California; Huntington Ingalls, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi; and VT Halter Marine, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi. The combined total value of the awards is approximately $20 million.
The objective of the studies are to identify design and systems approaches to reduce acquisition cost and production timelines. In addition to a requirement to develop heavy polar icebreaker designs with expected cost and schedule figures, the contracts require: the awardees to examine major design cost drivers; approaches to address potential acquisition, technology, and production risks; and benefits associated with different types of production contract types.

The heavy polar icebreaker integrated program office, staffed by Coast Guard and U.S. Navy personnel, will use the results of the studies to refine and validate the draft heavy polar icebreaker system specifications. The use of design studies is an acquisition best practice influenced by the Navy’s acquisition experience with the Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) amphibious transport ship and T-AO(X) fleet oiler, which are being acquired under accelerated acquisition schedules.

“These contracts will provide invaluable data and insight as we seek to meet schedule and affordability objectives,” said Rear Adm. Michael Haycock, the Coast Guard’s Director of Acquisition Programs and Program Executive Officer. “Our nation has an urgent need for heavy polar icebreaking capability. We formed an integrated program office with the Navy to take advantage of their shipbuilding experience. This puts us in the best possible position to succeed in this important endeavor,” said Haycock.

“The Navy is committed to the success of the heavy icebreaker program and is working collaboratively with our Coast Guard counterparts to develop a robust acquisition strategy that drives affordability and competition, while strengthening the industrial base,” said Jay Stefany, Executive Director, Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift Office, Program Executive Office, Ships. “Our ability to engage early with our industry partners will be critical to delivering this capability to our nation,” said Stefany.

The studies are expected to take 12 months to complete, with study results provided incrementally during that time. The Coast Guard plans to release a draft request for proposals (RFP) for detail design and construction by the end of fiscal year 2017, followed by release of the final RFP in fiscal year 2018. The Integrated Program Office plans to award a single contract for design and construction of the lead heavy polar icebreaker in fiscal year 2019, subject to appropriations.

For more information: Polar Icebreaker program page

Congress finally approved both a polar and another Great Lakes icebreaker

If you have read this insipid blog long enough you know that I am a fan of icebreakers (the ships, not the chat-up)  and bemoaned the long-running lack of such vessels in U.S. maritime service.

Well it seems Congress is finally doing something about it.

"A Coast Guard Icebreaker  on patrol in the Antarctic, moves through the ice floe." WAGB Southwind by Thomas Carr (ID# 87112) USCG Image. (Click to bigup, very nice image)

“A Coast Guard Icebreaker on patrol in the Antarctic, moves through the ice floe.” WAGB Southwind by Thomas Carr (ID# 87112) USCG Image. (Click to bigup, very nice image)

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015  passed by voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, Feb. 1, approving a bill the Senate passed in December. It now moves to President Barack Obama’s desk for a signature.

As part of the $1.9 billion included with the bill is money for a new polar icebreaker and one for the Great Lakes.

“This bipartisan bill authorizes the Coast Guard for two years and strengthens its ability to recapitalize an aging fleet of cutters and aircraft that are decades past their prime,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California.

Now hold your breath and wait for the ships to pop out, which may be a totally different thing altogether.