Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World

Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World

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The United States has enduring national and strategic interests in the polar regions, including citizens living above the Arctic circle and three year-round scientific stations in the Antarctic. Polar icebreaking ships are needed to access both regions. Over the past several decades, the U.S. government has supported a fleet of four icebreakers -- three multi-mission U.S. Coast Guard ships (the POLAR SEA, POLAR STAR, and HEALY) and the National Science FoundationA’s PALMER, which is dedicated solely to scientific research. Today, the POLAR STAR and the POLAR SEA are at the end of their service lives, and a lack of funds and no plans for an extension of the program has put U.S. icebreaking capability at risk. This report concludes that the United States should continue to support its interests in the Arctic and Antarctic for multiple missions, including maintaining leadership in polar science. The report recommends that the United States immediately program, budget, design, and construct two new polar icebreakers to be operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The POLAR SEA should remain mission capable and the POLAR STAR should remain available for reactivation until the new polar icebreakers enter service. The U.S. Coast Guard should be provided sufficient operations and maintenance budget to support an increased, regular, and influential presence in the Arctic, with support from other agencies. The report also calls for a Presidential Decision Directive to clearly align agency responsibilities and budgetary authorities.For the past two Antarctic summer seasons (2004-2005 and 2005-2006), unusually heavy ice conditions necessitated use of two ... The POLAR STAR will remain in this state indefinitely until a budget decision can be made to either repair it or ... for icebreaker services (see a€œThe U.S. Arctic Presencea€ in Chapter 2, and a€œArctic Environmental Change and Potential ... Changes in programs and levels of user agency funding resulted in the decommissioning of older icebreakers in the lateanbsp;...

Title:Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World
Author:Committee on the Assessment of U.S. Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Roles and Future Needs, Polar Research Board, Marine Board, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council
Publisher:National Academies Press - 2007-02-28


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