Fighting to prevent one third of our nation's icebreaking fleet from being scrapped, Alaskan Congressman Don Young today successfully attached an amendment to H.R. 5887, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012. Rep. Young's amendment aims to gauge private sector interest in operating an icebreaker and directs the Coast Guard to also assess any interest the private sector would have in buying or leasing the USCGC Polar Sea.
This amendment builds on a provision already contained in the underlying bill that requires the Coast Guard to complete an assessment and report back to Congress on what the cost would be to refurbish and get the ship back into service.
"I have said it before and I'll say it again -- our icebreaking capabilities are woefully inadequate," said Rep. Young. "The race for the Arctic and its resources has begun and we need to ensure all capable icebreakers are in service. The Coast Guard must explore all possibilities; that means making sure we're not completely scrapping an icebreaker that the private sector has shown interest in.
"It's time to get creative -- whether it's leasing or owning icebreakers, or even working with the private sector, we must work harder to improve our icebreaking capability."