Coast Guard seeks icebreaker to plug PSC gap


(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard released a request for information (RFI) on Tuesday to acquire a commercial icebreaker built in the United States following announced delays in the production of the service’s new polar security cutters (PSCs).

The Coast Guard’s RFI inquires about vessels available for purchase in 2023 or 2024 and that can operate in or around the Arctic. It follows the Biden administration’s request to Congress seeking $125 million for a heavy polar icebreaker to meet the Coast Guard’s interim needs until the first PSC is operational.

Halter Marine rendering

The service announced last fall that delivery of the first PSC would be delayed one year due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the complex design of the new ships. Halter Marine is building up to three PSCs, with the first ship is now slated for delivery in the third quarter of fiscal year 2025. It wouldn’t be operational for another two years.

The Coast Guard currently has two operational polar icebreakers: the 46-year-old heavy icebreaker Polar Star and the medium icebreaker Healy, which is just over 20 years old.

Responses to the RFI are due by June 10.

By Rich Miller