• Upgrades to the black and gray water systems

  • Replacement of the cranes

  • Replacement or upgrades of boilers and evaporators

  • Replacement of the navigation and electronic systems

  • Upgrades to controllable pitch propeller systems and hydraulic control

  • Science laboratory upgrades (test laboratories, controlled environment laboratories, staging bays)

  • Habitation spaces and systems for crew and scientists

If the POLAR SEA is out of service for a full year before the first newly constructed ship is available, the U.S. Coast Guard and the NSF would have to provide some alternative plan for McMurdo break-in. Note that only the HEALY would be available for tasking in the Arctic during the POLAR SEA upgrade and before delivery of the first new polar U.S. Coast Guard ship.

The second strategy would place the POLAR SEA in an enhanced maintenance program, with annual upgrades designed to allow the ship to operate every year and not be taken out of service for an entire year (approximately 2012) for its second major upgrade. The U.S. Coast Guard would have to determine if this second strategy could be made to work. In particular, is there an annual maintenance program that incrementally makes the needed improvements to the ship’s operating systems without placing the ship in dry dock for an extended period? This option involves additional risks to vessel service and necessitates careful development of an enhanced maintenance and repair program. The POLAR SEA must be in service for operations throughout the construction of the two new polar vessels, the last of which is to be completed and commissioned in 2016. At that point, the POLAR SEA will be placed in emergency backup status, to be available in the event of a decision to execute a mid-life upgrade of the HEALY in 2018 and 2019. The POLAR SEA can then be decommissioned in 2020.

The POLAR STAR needs to be available as a backup throughout the construction of the two new polar vessels. The two new polar vessels could begin construction in 2010 and 2011 and be in service in 2014 and 2015. The POLAR STAR can only be decommissioned when both new polar vessels are in service—that is after 2015. If the POLAR SEA must be taken out of service, the POLAR STAR may have to be activated to augment the HEALY. The schedule is shown graphically in Figure 10.1.


Operation and Crewing of Current World Icebreakers

Polar icebreakers currently in service throughout the world reflect a variety of design criteria, ownership structures, and operating and crewing models. Although a more common factor in the mid-twentieth century, few modern icebreakers have been designed to military standards. Of ships currently in service, only the Canadian LOUIS ST. LAURENT and the POLAR STAR and POLAR SEA in the U.S. fleet, all designed in the 1960s, could be considered to meet military standards to some extent, and none of these were designed as combatant warships. Although the HEALY can accommodate some limited military capabilities such as communications, the ship was basically designed to commercial standards.

Most polar icebreaker fleets today are owned by governments and operated directly by government agencies. Examples include the Canadian icebreaker fleet, the German research icebreaker POLARSTERN, and the Japanese icebreaker SHIRASE. Those large icebreakers, ostensibly operated by commercial entities, are in most cases part of state-owned companies (e.g., Murmansk Shipping and FESCO in Russia) or are operated by private enterprises on exclusive long-term charter to government agencies (e.g., PALMER for the U.S. National Science Foundation). Renewed interest in oil and gas exploration in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas has resulted in a number of truly commercial icebreaking ships, such as the Dutch KIGORIA and chartered icebreakers supporting Sea of Okhotsk oil development.

Table 10.3 provides information concerning the ownership, operating model, and crewing of polar icebreaking vessels currently in service around the world.

Past and Current Crewing Models

As indicated in Table 10.3, icebreaker crewing models include civilian mariners employed in accordance with commercial standards, government service civilian employees, and military personnel. Logically, these crewing choices for the wide range of icebreakers around the world are based on the following:

  • Icebreaker missions and employment: extent, complexity, and area of operations; and

  • Specific ship characteristics: size, complexity, age, and level of technology used in shipboard systems.

A survey of icebreakers around the world indicates that ships employed in commercial activities (e.g., Netherlands vessels) or purely for research (AURORA AUSTRALIS, PALMER) tend to be crewed in accordance with commercial standards. Icebreakers with more extensive multimission roles, particularly those representing national interests in the polar regions, have crews comprising government employees or military personnel (Canada, United States, Argentina).

Most polar icebreakers operate almost exclusively in only one of the polar regions: AURORA AUSTRALIS, ALMIRANTE IRIZAR, SHIRASE, and PALMER are almost exclusively Antarctic ships (although PALMER has

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