California yard gets $5.1 million contract to overhaul icebreaker

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The following is the text of a news release from the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif.:

(WASHINGTON) (May 6) — U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson today announced a $5.1 million U.S. Coast Guard contract for Mare Island Dry Dock LLC. The contract is for the dry docking and ship repairs of the Polar Star icebreaker. Polar Star is used to clear pathways for supply vessels and support research missions.

"This is a great day for Mare Island, Vallejo and Solano County,” said Thompson. “The Polar Star contract will bring much needed jobs and revenue to our community, and it represents an important step forward in the economic revitalization of Mare Island.”

Last year, Thompson hosted a summit on economic revitalization of Mare Island. The summit pulled together stakeholders from the private and public sectors and was focused on the cleanup, redevelopment, long-term economic opportunities available on the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard. The Polar Star contract is representative of the kind long-term economic opportunities on which the summit focused.

“This is great news for Solano County. I want to thank Congressman Mike Thompson for his commitment to Mare Island and to everyone involved in helping secure this contract for Mare Island. I can’t wait to see the ‘Now Hiring’ signs,” said Coast Guard subcommittee ranking member Congressman John Garamendi, D-Calif. “As the polar ice cap in the Arctic continues to recede further opening the region to global shipping traffic and other economic development, the Polar Star will be a key Coast Guard asset protecting American interests and ensuring safe and reliable maritime commerce.”

Polar Star was commissioned in January 1976 and is a 399-foot polar-class icebreaker with a 140-person crew. Its maximum speed is 18 knots and it is capable of continuously breaking 6 feet of ice at three knots and can break 21 feet of ice backing and ramming.

The vessel recently finished a mission in Antarctica to break through 12 miles of ice up to 10 feet in thickness on a major shipping channel. The shipping channel is used by the tankers to deliver approximately 3.5 million gallons of fuel to area residents and to deliver more than 500 containers of supplies to operate McMurdo and South Pole stations for the next 12 months.

Its next stop is Mare Island Dry Dock.

By Professional Mariner Staff