Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress [September 23, 2009]   [open pdf - 453KB]

"Of the Coast Guard's three polar icebreakers, two--Polar Star and Polar Sea--have exceeded their intended 30-year service lives. [...]. Under the Coast Guard's current schedule, the first replacement polar icebreaker might enter service in 8 to 10 years, by which time Polar Star and Polar Sea could be about 40 years old. [...]. Potential policy issues for Congress regarding Coast Guard polar icebreaker modernization include the numbers and capabilities of polar icebreakers the Coast Guard will need in the future; whether to provide these icebreakers through construction of new ships or service life extensions of Polar Start and/or Polar Sea; whether to accelerate the Coast Guard's current schedule for acquiring replacement ships; whether new ships should be nuclear powered; whether new ships should be funded entirely in the Coast Guard budget, or partly or entirely in some other part of the federal budget, such as the Department of Defense (DOD) budget, the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget, or both; and whether, as an interim measure, the Polar Star should be repaired and placed back into service. The proposed FY2010 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget, which includes the proposed FY2010 Coast Guard budget, does not request any funding in the service's Acquisition, Construction, and Improvements (AC&I) account for polar icebreaker sustainment or acquisition of new polar icebreakers."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34391
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