Report cites 'critical' need for four new US polar icebreakers


(WASHINGTON) — The rapid pace of global warming and ice melting at the poles have underscored the "critical" need for the United States to build four new polar icebreakers, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, reported.

Congress called for the report amid concerns about the state of the U.S. icebreaking fleet, which has just one ship, Polar Star, that can handle heavy duty. This has left the United States "ill-equipped to protect its interests, while other nations have mobilized to expand their access to ice-covered regions," the report said.

"For more than 30 years, studies have underscored the need for U.S. icebreakers to maintain presence, sovereignty, leadership and research capacity, but the nation has failed to make the recommended investments," said an accompanying statement by Richard West, retired Navy rear admiral and chairman of the committee that authored the report.

The cost of each of the new ships is estimated to be $791 million. Under the proposed schedule, construction should begin in 2019, with the first ship ready by 2024 and the second by 2025.

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By Professional Mariner Staff