Chairs DeFazio, Maloney, Reps. Garamendi, Larsen, Young Applaud Major Step Forward in Coast Guard’s Plan to Build New Polar Security Cutter

Apr 23, 2019 Issues: Transportation & Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Congressman Don Young (D-AK) applauded the U.S. Coast Guard’s announcement that it has awarded a contract for the detail design and construction of the first Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter, the first of six planned polar icebreakers. Chairs DeFazio, Maloney, Reps. Garamendi, Larsen, and Young have long championed efforts to address a substantial gap in the Coast Guard’s operational capability in the High North, citing the importance of heavy icebreakers to ensure national security, facilitate commerce, and conduct scientific research and maritime safety missions. Most recently, the members worked successfully to ensure that Congress included $655 million in the Fiscal Year 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act to begin work on the first icebreaker, as well as $20 million to begin acquiring long lead time materials for a second icebreaker.

“Polar icebreakers are key to our Nation’s Arctic strategy, affecting everything from our national security and maritime safety, to our trade routes and ability to protect the environment. But for too long, investing in the Coast Guard’s new fleet has been put on the backburner and as a result, the U.S. has struggled to keep up while other countries are plowing ahead to make the Arctic their own,” Chair DeFazio said. “That changes today. I applaud the Coast Guard for taking this big step forward to recapitalize its aged polar icebreaker fleet, protect our national sovereign interests, and reassert the United States as a leader at both poles. On behalf of the men and women of the Coast Guard, I promise to keep fighting on your behalf to provide you with assets and equipment you need to effectively carry out your mission and to remain Semper Paratus, or ‘Always Ready.’ ”

“This is a great step forward and a long time coming,” Maloney said. “For too long, we’ve been outpaced by Russia and China as they’ve expanded their icebreaker fleets and encroached on the High North. I am excited to see the $655 million we secured to build the first icebreaker is being put to good use. It’s up to Washington to ensure the Coast Guard has the resources it needs to protect our national security and sovereignty in the Artic,”

“As the Arctic continues to change due to climate change, the Coast Guard has emphasized the national security risks of failing to develop a polar security cutter for the region. Today’s announcement is a major milestone for the Coast Guard, and this vessel is critically important for commercial, national security, and emergency rescue scenarios that will project America’s position in the Arctic. We need to remain active in this region, which is why I worked hard to secure the authorization for polar security cutters as the top Democrat on the Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee for the past 6 years,” Garamendi said.

“The United States is an Arctic nation, and as such, what happens in the Arctic matters for the whole country. As the Arctic warms and becomes increasingly accessible, activity in the region is increasing. Although the Arctic remains largely free of conflict, both friends and competitors are increasing their military and economic investments in the region. A new icebreaker will strengthen the U.S. presence in the region and support the U.S. Coast Guard’s security strategy,” Larsen said.

“As a longtime advocate for Arctic domain awareness, I am pleased to see the United States Navy and Coast Guard award this new Polar Security Cutter contract. This award is a major step toward finally recapitalizing our aging Polar Security Cutter fleet,” Young said. “Alaska plays a unique role in our national defense posture, and as interests in the Arctic continue to grow, our Polar Security Cutters will be vital assets for promoting safety and security for those in Alaska, the United States and our allies across the globe.”

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