Senator Lisa Murkowski today thanked the United States Coast Guard and the crew of the cutter Healy for their rescue mission of a stranded mariner attempting to sail through the Arctic region, saying:
"While I realize that an icebreaker is a high cost item, America needs to step up its investment in the Arctic as the waters there open up to possible travel, economic and military activity. I continue to raise the need for a new icebreaker and the Senate is beginning to understand the importance of this as a national priority. Whether it is my Senate colleague from Louisiana agreeing to a hearing this fall on the need for icebreakers or my colleague from Maine for sounding the call with me on icebreakers just last week, it's clear this conversation is moving forward -- we just need it to advance quicker.
"The Altan Girl and its captain were lucky that the Healy icebreaker was nearby conducting a research project and could cut through the ice to rescue him, as helicopters were not an option due to weather. Former USCG Commandant Admiral Papp told me that he "lucked out' by having the Healy available when Nome needed its emergency delivery of fuel around Christmastime of 2011. Luck is no substitute for national policy, however, and I believe that this weekend's incident proves that we need to move with all possible speed to expand our fleet."