A
Statement of Task

Polar icebreakers are essential for the United States to conduct operations in the Antarctic and the Arctic regions. This study will provide a comprehensive assessment of the current and future roles of Coast Guard polar icebreakers in supporting U.S. operations in the Antarctic and the Arctic, including scenarios for continuing those operations and alternative approaches, the changes in roles and missions of polar icebreakers in the support of all national priorities in the polar regions, and potential changes in the roles of Coast Guard icebreakers in the Arctic that may develop due to environmental change. Specifically, this study will:

  1. Assess the roles of U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers (heavy, medium, and light) in supporting U.S. operations in the Antarctic and the Arctic and provide an analysis of the overall demand for icebreaking services, including:

    1. Describe present uses of polar icebreakers with respect to the relevant missions in the Antarctic and the Arctic, including national defense, homeland security, support of economic activity, law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection, and the support of and conduct of science.

    2. Describe expected future needs for polar icebreakers, such as where and when the polar icebreakers will be expected to operate and what capabilities will be needed in order to accomplish all missions in the polar regions.

    3. Determine the approximate number and types of Coast Guard polar icebreakers needed in the future and when and where they might be expected to operate to meet national priority concerns in the polar regions.

  1. Present and analyze a small number of feasible scenarios for continuing polar icebreaker operations in the polar regions, including service life extension of existing Coast Guard icebreakers, replacement of existing Coast Guard icebreakers, and alternate methods of meeting identified needs (e.g., resupply of McMurdo Station and availability of platforms for marine research), including use of ice-strengthened vessels, foreign vessels, and other options that do not use Coast Guard services.

  2. Describe potential changes in the roles and missions of Coast Guard polar icebreakers in support of future marine operations in the Arctic that may develop due to environmental change.

  3. Review existing laws governing Coast Guard polar icebreaking operations and present recommended changes based upon potential missions and new operating regimes.

This study will be conducted in two phases. The committee will deliver an interim report by November 30, 2005, that provides the foundation materials needed for urgent decision making. In addition it will deliver a final, detailed report in the summer of 2006 that meets the requirement for a comprehensive study, which cannot be accomplished in the initial timeframe. In phase one, the committee will focus on conducting the demand analysis (Task 1) and outlining the nature of the feasible scenarios for continuing operations, including identification of those that seem most promising (starting on Task 2) for additional analysis. The potential for environmental change (Task 3) is one variable that will be considered when identifying promising scenarios, although details will be developed and provided in phase two.



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Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World: An Assessment of U.S. Needs A Statement of Task Polar icebreakers are essential for the United States to conduct operations in the Antarctic and the Arctic regions. This study will provide a comprehensive assessment of the current and future roles of Coast Guard polar icebreakers in supporting U.S. operations in the Antarctic and the Arctic, including scenarios for continuing those operations and alternative approaches, the changes in roles and missions of polar icebreakers in the support of all national priorities in the polar regions, and potential changes in the roles of Coast Guard icebreakers in the Arctic that may develop due to environmental change. Specifically, this study will: Assess the roles of U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers (heavy, medium, and light) in supporting U.S. operations in the Antarctic and the Arctic and provide an analysis of the overall demand for icebreaking services, including: Describe present uses of polar icebreakers with respect to the relevant missions in the Antarctic and the Arctic, including national defense, homeland security, support of economic activity, law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection, and the support of and conduct of science. Describe expected future needs for polar icebreakers, such as where and when the polar icebreakers will be expected to operate and what capabilities will be needed in order to accomplish all missions in the polar regions. Determine the approximate number and types of Coast Guard polar icebreakers needed in the future and when and where they might be expected to operate to meet national priority concerns in the polar regions. Present and analyze a small number of feasible scenarios for continuing polar icebreaker operations in the polar regions, including service life extension of existing Coast Guard icebreakers, replacement of existing Coast Guard icebreakers, and alternate methods of meeting identified needs (e.g., resupply of McMurdo Station and availability of platforms for marine research), including use of ice-strengthened vessels, foreign vessels, and other options that do not use Coast Guard services. Describe potential changes in the roles and missions of Coast Guard polar icebreakers in support of future marine operations in the Arctic that may develop due to environmental change. Review existing laws governing Coast Guard polar icebreaking operations and present recommended changes based upon potential missions and new operating regimes. This study will be conducted in two phases. The committee will deliver an interim report by November 30, 2005, that provides the foundation materials needed for urgent decision making. In addition it will deliver a final, detailed report in the summer of 2006 that meets the requirement for a comprehensive study, which cannot be accomplished in the initial timeframe. In phase one, the committee will focus on conducting the demand analysis (Task 1) and outlining the nature of the feasible scenarios for continuing operations, including identification of those that seem most promising (starting on Task 2) for additional analysis. The potential for environmental change (Task 3) is one variable that will be considered when identifying promising scenarios, although details will be developed and provided in phase two.

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