Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress [September 2, 2015] [open pdf - 1MB]
"The operational U.S. polar icebreaking fleet currently consists of one heavy polar icebreaker, 'Polar Star', and one medium polar icebreaker, 'Healy'. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Mission Need Statement (MNS) approved in June 2013 states that 'current requirements and future projections ... indicate the Coast Guard will need to expand its icebreaking capacity, potentially requiring a fleet of up to six icebreakers (3 heavy and 3 medium) to adequately meet mission demands in the high latitudes.... ' In addition to 'Polar Star', the Coast Guard has a second heavy polar icebreaker, 'Polar Sea'. This ship suffered an engine casualty in June 2010 and has been non-operational since then. 'Polar Star' and 'Polar Sea' entered service in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and are now well beyond their originally intended 30-year service lives. […] The Administration's FY2014 budget submission reduced the five-year funding for a new polar icebreaker to $230 million--a 73% reduction--but still stated that DHS anticipated awarding a construction contract for the ship 'within the next four years' (i.e., by FY2018). The Administration's FY2015 budget submission maintained five-year funding for a new polar icebreaker at $230 million, but did not state when a construction contract for the ship might be awarded, creating uncertainty about the timing of the project. The Administration's FY2016 budget submission, submitted to Congress in February 2015, reduced five-year funding for a new polar icebreaker further, to $166 million--an 81% reduction from the figure in the FY2013 budget submission--and again did not state when a construction contract for the ship might be awarded, maintaining the uncertainty about the timing of the project."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34391
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html