American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEADEditors note: That's would make for a total of 3 US Ice Breakers for a short while but one of the Coast Guard's is so old it will have to be retired. By contrast Russia has 40 ice breakers in the High Arctic. MAny are armed and Russia claims the entire Artic Ocean as "The Russian Sea". What blocks the US from obtaining a larger ice breaking fleet? Democrats.
"It would take the Coast Guard more than a decade to build a new polar icebreaker. To try to cut that time in half, it's joining forces with the Navy's well-oiled acquisition machine.
The two services are standing up a joint program office after months of prodding by a California congressman who has called for the Coast Guard to put an icebreaker in the water as soon as possible, whether newly built or leased from another country.
"What I got out of this and the last hearing too — the Coast Guard doesn’t get it," Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told Navy Times on Wednesday, following a hearing of the House Transportation Committee's Coast Guard and maritime transportation subcommittee. "This is going to take massive pushes and changes, even more from Congress. It’s going to take the Navy kind of taking this over."
READ MORE AT NAVY TIMES
OUR TAKE ON THE STORY:
The Coast Guard has a long and successful history of operating "Craft of Opportunity", vessels acquired through unusual methods, chartered, or transferred from the Navy or other services. For most of the 20th century only relatively small craft between 30 and 82 feet were built to Coast Guard specifications and design. The Hamilton Class high endurance cutters from the 1960s and the Island Class Patrol vessels of the 80s were rare examples of Coast Guard specified cutters from the keel up. Since the late 90s the Coast Guard has been designing and acquiring its own large vessels. Understandably the Coast Guard has become extremely attached to having a purpose built fleet. The service has not reacted favorably to Congressional pressures in terms of the nation's ice breaking capacity. This is simply unwise. Ice breakers are available and can be modified with mostly bolt on weaponry such as 50 cal. machine guns and special small boats to provide functionality for fisheries enforcement, border security, type missions.
The Congress is well aware that a Coast Guard cutter is a military and law enforcement vessel and doesn't just break ice. But ice breaking to facilitate commerce is a Coast Guard civil mission and vitally necessary. In the high arctic a vessel that can't break ice can't possibly provide support for the Coast Guard's border security, military presence, fisheries and exclusive economic zone enforcement missions. Certainly a "craft of opportunity" will not perform all of the missions as well as a Coast Guard designed from the keel up vessel would, but with bolt on additions a stout ice breaker could do well enough to establish an effective presence that we lack now under existing budget constraints.
The statement by Adm. Charles Michel opposing both craft of opportunity and US NAVY acquisition participation that "The Coast Guard operates Coast Vessels" and "This is not a pick up game for the Coast Guard" is hardly in the spirit of the service's motto , Semper Paratus, nor in keeping with its long history of success with craft of opportunity. We don't suggest a return to the bad old days of the Coast Guard having to provide services from ancient hulls nearing junk status. The use of craft of opportunity, joint acquisition, and similar programs to fill a rapidly growing and urgent national need in times of severe Naval / Coast Guard budget restraints does not endanger the Coast Guard's on going purpose built fleet acquisition. Delay in fielding Coast Guard crews to the High Arctic does endanger our rights in our High Arctic Exclusive Economic Zone, our border security, the fisheries we are responsible for protecting, and the growth of marine traffic in the region.
We think its time for Adm.Michel and flag officers of similar mind set to place the nation's needs first and service preferences second. What has happened to the Semper Paratus attitude of the service's flag officer corps? We come into contact with the Coast Guard's modern day petty officer corps almost daily. They seem little different from past generations, following "the book" until it doesn't work, then innovating, adapting, and overcoming in order to complete the mission. The petty officer corps still seems to have that old Semper Paratus spirit in spades. Their unofficial motto is:
We the willing, led by the inept, serve the ungrateful.
We've been doing so much for so long with so little,
That today we can do anything with nothing.
Buck up admirals and get your boatswain's mates , gunners mates, operations specialists, and machinery technicians to the High Arctic on the best rides you can get them now. Once there, they won't fail, but fail to get them there on time and you fail the nation!
See Also: MORE ICE BREAKERS COMING for an alternative acquisition idea.http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2016/07/14/navy-teams-up-coast-guard-build-polar-icebreaker/87078818/