Schultz: Ingenuity, Grit Keep Coast Guard’s Last Heavy Icebreaker Running

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The Coast Guard plans to award a settlement this spring to build a brand new heavy icebreaker, but Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz says these days’s troubles running the one many years-vintage icebreaker illustrate the fragility of the modern-day polar icebreaking capability.

Each year, USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) runs a vital mission of breaking thru miles of ice within the most unforgiving surroundings on the planet in order that resupply ships can reach the U.S. National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Research Station, Schultz stated.

His worst-case scenario for the venture – breaking down in the ice without the ability to repair or rescue Polar Star – almost came to skip some weeks in the past, Schultz stated throughout his annual State of the Coast Guard deal with.

 

“In the midst of her a success undertaking, the Polar Star broke her centerline shaft shield, because of the strain of ice operations, permitting water to enter the deliver,” Schultz said.

The U.S. Doesn’t have a viable approach of mounting a rescue assignment. A 2d heavy icebreaker, USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB-11), exists today simplest as a components-donor for Polar Star. A medium icebreaker, USCGC Healy (WAGB-20), can’t operate in Antarctica. This is why the Coast Guard needs to recapitalize its polar icebreaking capability.

“Hundreds of miles from the closest secure port, a joint Coast Guard and Navy dive team applied the patch that slowed the flooding. Meanwhile, engineers immersed in 30-degree bilge water, the usage of unique equipment fabricated on the ship, successfully repaired their very own deliver,” Schultz said.

“Every year I take a look at this kind of innovation and dedication to task excellence from the women and men aboard Polar Star,” Schultz stated.

Three years in the past, while breaking the ice on the manner to McMurdo Station, Polar Star’s SUV-sized thrust bearing bracket suffered what the Coast Guard known as “a catastrophic failure.” The bracket is a series of beams that keep the deliver’s shaft that spins the deliver’s propeller, and the failure required round-the-clock welding to repair, in line with the Coast Guard.

Also, at some stage in the 2016 project, certainly one of Polar Star’s generators shorted out and started out smoking. After a brief internet seek, crew contributors have been capable of bring the generator lower back on-line via using a surfboard restore package to manufacture a replacement element, in keeping with the Coast Guard.

For years, Coast Guard leadership pressed the case for Congress to approve a Polar Star substitute software. The Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2019 consists of $655 million to construct its first new ice breaker in 4 decades, the first in a deliberate fleet of six Polar Security Cutters. The Coast Guard is also soliciting for extra investment for FY 2020 to continue this system.

Meanwhile, Russia and China have for years increased their Arctic fleets and bases, Schultz said. Their intention is to increase their access and have an impact on to areas which are more and more turning into more essential as mineral wealth will become extra handy.

“That’s why our polar safety acquisition application is so critical to our countrywide security and our prosperity inside the high latitudes,” Schultz stated. “Without this American presence on the continent, we cede American affect inside the area. In the polar regions, presence equals have an impact on.”

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