Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress [May 29, 2009] [open pdf - 682KB]
"Of the Coast Guard's three polar icebreakers, two--Polar Star and Polar Sea--have exceeded their intended 30-year service lives. […]. 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. Congress's options regarding Coast Guard polar icebreaker modernization include but are not limited to the following: approving the Coast Guard's current plan; holding hearings to solicit additional information on the issue; directing the Coast Guard to include the option of nuclear power in its studies of requirements for future icebreakers; directing the Coast Guard to pursue a particular acquisition strategy for icebreaker modernization; accelerating the procurement of new icebreakers relative to the Coast Guard's current plan; funding the procurement of new icebreakers partly or entirely in the DOD and/or NSF budget rather than entirely the Coast Guard budget; and directing the Coast Guard to reactivate Polar Star."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34391