The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard have announced that Halter Marine of Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded the contract to build the nation’s first new heavy Polar Security Cutter in more than 40 years. The icebreaker is to be delivered by 2024.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz called the Alaska delegation to share the news and thank them for their efforts in support of the progress to update the icebreaker fleet.
The initial fixed price contract is $746 million for non-recurring engineering and detail design of the Coast Guard’s lead Polar Security Cutter. This will also allow the purchase of the long lead-time materials for the first icebreaker. The company won options to build two additional Polar Security Cutters, bringing the value of the contract to $1.9 billion.
The Polar Security Cutters are designed to conduct search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, environmental response and national defense patrols missions in the Arctic and Antarctic.
President Donald Trump signed a funding bill passed by Congress which has $675 million for the cutter, which fully funds the first cutter and has $20 million leftover for materials for the second one.
The Alaska delegation issued statements to the media:
“As a longtime advocate for Arctic domain awareness, I am pleased to see the United States Navy and Coast Guard award this new Polar Security Cutter contract. This award is a major step toward finally recapitalizing our aging Polar Security Cutter fleet,” said Congressman Don Young.
“This is an important and significant step towards an operational Polar Security Cutter to help meet our nation’s needs in the Arctic,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have worked tirelessly to fully fund a polar icebreaker fleet and will continue to support the Coast Guard to make a U.S. polar capable fleet a reality. The U.S. cannot stand on the sidelines as other Arctic and non-Arctic nations continue to expand their icebreaker fleets and with it, their Arctic presence.”
“The United States cannot realize the potential of the Arctic—both for our national security and for the people who live there—without the technology necessary to protect our national interests in the far north,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan. “Today, the Coast Guard has taken another vital step toward securing our country’s place in this strategically-significant region with a contract award for a new polar security cutter.”
The Coast Guard is the sole provider and operator of U.S. polar icebreakers and has just two that are operational — the medium-duty Healy, which is 20 years old, and the Polar Star, which operates in the Antarctic and was commissioned in 1976, later refitted and recommissioned in 2012.
Halter Marine and Glosten Associates of Seattle were the design-build c.mpanies for the Alaska State Ferry MV Kennicott in 1998, which was designed to be able to be transformed into a command center for emergency teams responding to an oil spill.
Halter has since changed hands, bought up in 2002 by Vision Technologies Kinetics Inc., a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd.