Icebreaker Fleet Will Need Makeover by About 2020, Coast Guard Says
The U.S. Coast Guard's fleet of two operating Arctic-class icebreakers will be sufficient -- if barely so -- for about another six years, the agency's new Alaska commandant said Monday.
Rear Adm. Daniel Abel, who took over in June as the commandant for the sprawling Alaska district, told the U.S. Arctic Research Commission the Coast Guard can get by with its operating icebreakers, the Healy and the Polar Star.
"Currently, the Coast Guard feels that the inventory that we have, between the Polar Star and the Healy, provides the minimum capability that we need to get us to about 2020," Abel told the commission, which is holding a two-day meeting in Anchorage.
The Polar Star, which has been operating in Antarctica, is considered a heavy Arctic-class icebreaker, cutting through 6 feet of sea ice when traveling at a steady 3 knots and, when it rams with full force, breaking through 20-foot-thick ice, Abel said.