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Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs (2017)

Chapter: 3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY

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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3. Appendix B: MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Acquisition and Operation of Polar Icebreakers: Fulfilling the Nation’s Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24834.
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11 Appendix B MISSION NEED, THE POLAR ENVIRONMENT, AND ICEBREAKER CAPABILITY The United States has strategic national interests in the Arctic and the Antarctic. For more than 30 years, studies have emphasized the need for the United States to maintain polar icebreaking capability and have reaffirmed the importance of U.S. presence and leadership in promoting stewardship and in conducting science and research in high latitude regions. A U.S. presence in high latitude regions requires reliable year-round access to support economic interests, search and rescue needs, defense and security readiness, environmental protection, maritime mobility, and scientific research. In the Antarctic, the United States maintains three year-round research facilities and verifies compliance with international treaty obligations, both of which may require icebreaking ability during any season. In the Arctic, the United States conducts scientific research, supports its citizens who live and work in the region, and maintains commercial and political relations with the other seven Arctic nations. Since the Navy transferred all icebreaking responsibility in 1965, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has performed the nation’s primary icebreaking duties, as defined in Title 14 USC § 2 (see https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title14/pdf/USCODE-2011- title14-partI-chap1-sec2.pdf). USCG’s six major operational mission programs oversee 11 statutory missions as outlined in the Homeland Security Act of 2002. As detailed in its 2013 Mission Need Statement, USCG must ensure that it can support current and future icebreaking requirements in the polar regions (DHS 2013). U.S. polar ice operations support nine of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions (DHS 2013; O’Rourke 2017b). In support of the research stations in the Antarctic, the USCG mission—called Operation Deep Freeze—requires a heavy icebreaker to break through the ice to reach McMurdo Station each January. After it creates a channel through the ice, the heavy icebreaker will need to keep the channel open and escort resupply vessels to prevent them from being encased in the ice. The summer Arctic sea ice cover has continued to decrease over the past 30 years, although significant areas are still ice covered during the summer and the other seasons. Even with the decreased summer sea ice in the polar regions, the need for polar icebreakers will not be eliminated. Commercial and civilian traffic arising from emerging economic opportunities and potential military operations is likely to grow, and such activities would require more support from polar icebreaking (NRC 2007; O’Rourke 2017b). For example, the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009 Report (Arctic Council 2009) documented that cruise ship traffic had increased dramatically around Greenland; also, in 2016, the cruise ship Crystal Serenity made a transit through the Northwest Passage.4 USCG owns two heavy-duty polar icebreakers: the Polar Star, which originally entered service in 1976, and the Polar Sea, which entered service in 1978 and has been out of commission since 2010, when it was placed in caretaker status. The Polar Star, which had been in dry dock, was refurbished and reentered service in 2013. USCG also owns a medium-duty polar icebreaker, the Healy, which entered service in 2000 and is primarily devoted to science missions in the Arctic. For many years, the primary need for a heavy-duty polar icebreaker has been for support of science missions and Operation Deep Freeze in the Antarctic. 4 See https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/opinion/sunday/where-ice-once-crushed-ships-open-water- beckons.html; also, https://rctom.hbs.org/submission/the-battle-at-the-top-of-the-world/.

12 An examination of USCG’s aging fleet of heavy polar icebreakers makes the need for a modern fleet evident. The Polar Star is more than 10 years beyond its intended 30-year service life, and the Healy is halfway through its 30-year projected life. Even after refurbishment in 2012, the Polar Star’s service would only extend until 2023. Ten years have passed since the previous 2007 National Academies report stated that the Polar Star and the Polar Sea “are becoming inefficient to operate…require substantial and increasing maintenance efforts to keep vital ship systems operational, and technological systems are becoming increasingly obsolete. This situation has created major mission readiness issues” (NRC 2007, 15). The lead time for completing a new heavy polar icebreaker is reported to be at least 4 years, which suggests starting construction as soon as 2019. USCG performs multiple missions in support of its statutory missions and U.S. interests in the polar regions, and it will require additional polar icebreakers to fill a potential capability gap between the end of service life of the Polar Star and the acquisition of a new heavy-duty polar icebreaker. Acquisition of new polar icebreakers poses difficult budget trade-offs for USCG, which is in the midst of a multiyear, billion dollar plan to update its vast and aged capital assets. The plan provides for acquisition of new cutters each year at an annual cost that leaves little for all other assets, including polar icebreakers. Current budget constraints are compounded by high cost estimates. With limited exceptions, U.S. law requires that vessels operated by the U.S. government be built by a U.S. shipyard, which has not built a heavy-duty polar icebreaker since the 1970s (O’Rourke 2017b). The cost of building a heavy-duty icebreaker in the United States is estimated at $1 billion, roughly three times what a foreign-built icebreaker is estimated to cost. The anticipated high cost and federal budget constraints have led Congress to request a study to identify options for procuring and operating a polar icebreaker at the lowest possible life-cycle cost. The following sections discuss the missions and icebreaking needs of the United States, the changing polar environments, and current and future U.S. icebreaking capability. USCG Missions USCG is a military service and branch of the United States armed forces, according to Title 14 of the U.S. Code, with seven primary duties (see 14 U.S. Code § 2—Primary duties). Primary duty number four5 makes USCG the principal provider of icebreaking capabilities. USCG has six major operational mission programs, which oversee 11 statutory missions.6 Of the 11 missions (listed below), six are considered “non–homeland security missions” and five are considered “homeland security missions.” For USCG, a “Mission Need Statement” identifies the changes necessary for a program to satisfy a mission deficiency or to enhance a capability. The “need” can be met by either material or nonmaterial solution. The Polar Icebreaker Mission Need Statement outlines the material gaps for the polar icebreaker program. Polar Ice Operations cover nine (bolded below) 5 See 14 U.S. Code § 2 (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2009-title14/pdf/USCODE-2009- title14-partI-chap1-sec2.pdf). USCG “shall develop, establish, maintain, and operate, with due regard to the requirements of national defense, aids to maritime navigation, ice-breaking facilities, and rescue facilities for the promotion of safety on, under, and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” 6 See http://www.overview.uscg.mil/Missions/.

13 of the 11 USCG missions; descriptions of all 11 missions are found in the Mission Need Statement (DHS 2013, 2–4). • Six non–homeland security missions 1. Marine safety 2. Search and rescue 3. Aids to navigation 4. Living marine resources 5. Marine environmental protection 6. Ice operations • Five homeland security missions 1. Ports, waterways, and coastal security 2. Defense readiness 3. Other law enforcement 4. Drug interdiction (not specifically related to polar icebreakers) 5. Migrant interdiction (not specifically related to polar icebreakers) The authority of USCG in polar regions is also specified in Titles 16, 33, 42, 43, 46, and 50 of the U.S. Code (DHS 2013; NRC 2007).7 In addition to meeting statutory mission requirements, the icebreakers enable the country to meet other national goals. Icebreakers are a critical component of the Arctic and Antarctic strategies, as evidenced in presidential and national security directives and in agency agreements on polar policy and icebreaking. The United States Antarctic Program, managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was established in Presidential Memorandum 66468 in 1982. Policies for the Antarctic are shaped mainly by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. They include • Use of “Antarctica for peaceful purposes only,” • Facilitation of “scientific research in Antarctica,” • Facilitation of “international scientific cooperation in Antarctica,” • Facilitation of “the exercise of the rights of inspection provided for in the Article VII of the Treaty,” and • Preservation and conservation of “living resources in Antarctica” (DHS 2013, 6). Similarly, visible U.S. presence and maintenance of an active program have been of national importance as evidenced by pursuit of four fundamental objectives from Presidential Decision Directive 26.9 Arctic policy is often set on the national level by presidential and national security directives to meet “the national security and homeland security needs relevant to the Arctic region, protecting the Arctic environment and conserving its biological resources, and ensuring that natural resource management and economic development in the region are environmentally sustainable” (DHS 2013, 6). For example, National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66– Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25, signed by President George W. Bush in 7 A more detailed list of USCG’s authority under the U.S. Code is given by DHS 2013, Table 1.2, p. 5, and by NRC 2007, Appendix C, pp. 113–116. 8 https://www.nsf.gov/geo/plr/ant/memo_6646.jsp. 9 See PDD/NSC-26, 1994 (https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/pdd/pdd-26.pdf).

14 2009, emphasizes the continued importance of U.S. presence in the Arctic by establishing an Arctic Region Policy (NSPD 66/HSPD 25).10 President Obama continued to emphasize the Arctic Region with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region (White House 2013); the 2014 Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (White House 2014); and Executive Order 13689, Enhancing Coordination of National Efforts in the Arctic (White House 2015), which established the Arctic Executive Steering Committee. The 2014 Implementation Plan aimed to “sustain federal capability to conduct maritime operations in ice- impacted waters” by ensuring that the United States “maintains icebreaking and ice-strengthened ship capability with sufficient capacity to project a sovereign U.S. maritime presence, support U.S. interests in the Polar Regions, and facilitate research that advances the fundamental understanding of the Arctic” (White House 2014, 8).11 Scientific Missions Nation’s Need for and Support of Science The United States has a long-standing commitment to and record of supporting ground-breaking scientific research and exploration in the polar regions, including the ice-covered waters around Antarctica and the Arctic Ocean basin. Continued leadership in polar science research requires that the United States maintain access to these regions (NRC 2007). Polar research is critical both for advancing fundamental discovery in numerous disciplines and for understanding dramatic ongoing environmental changes and the broader impacts of those changes, including impacts on human communities. The U.S. Antarctic Program provides many resources that describe the importance of Antarctic and Southern Ocean research to the nation,12 and the significance of Arctic research was articulated by science ministers from 25 governments, including the eight Arctic States, at the recent Arctic Science Ministerial.13 Polar Icebreakers and the Support of Science The importance of icebreaking ships for enabling scientific research in the polar regions has been discussed in a number of recent Academies reports, which have emphasized the growing need for ice-capable ships that provide access to the Arctic and the Antarctic. A previous committee concluded that research support missions and USCG’s mission are compatible and that configuring USCG ships with “appropriate science facilities” can be advantageous and cost- effective (NRC 2007, 9). Shipboard access to the polar regions throughout the year is essential 10 See https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/nspd-66.htm. 11 https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/implementation_plan_for_the_national_stra tegy_for_the_arctic_region_-_fi....pdf. 12 The reasons for performing scientific research in the Antarctic are given at https://www.nsf.gov/geo/plr/antarct/treaty/opp10001/big_print_0910/bigprint0910_1.jsp. 13 This event, which occurred on September 28, 2016, discussed the importance of improving collaborative science efforts in the Arctic. See https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/28/joint-statement-ministers.

15 for answering critical research questions for various science fields on subjects such as ocean–ice interactions, marine ecosystems, and marine food webs (NRC 2014; NRC 2015b). Heavy polar icebreakers provide access to the Antarctic and support science missions in the region by breaking out a channel each year (Operation Deep Freeze) so that ships can deliver vital supplies to McMurdo Station and South Pole Station, and they carry out a wide array of other field activities. Icebreakers occasionally escort research ships for studies of difficult-to-reach polar waters, such as the Amundsen Sea Embayment, which is a critical area for studying the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (NRC 2015c). However, the nation’s “aging and dwindling” polar icebreaking capability jeopardizes the accomplishment of this important research. This concern was recognized recently by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.14 Icebreakers and Other Agencies The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and NSF all support oceanographic research projects in polar regions, many of which require vessels with science and ice navigation capability. NSF’s mission is the conduct of basic research; NOAA has significant interest in fisheries ecosystems, seafloor mapping of the Extended Continental Shelf in support of the Law of the Sea, navigation, and weather systems; NASA’s mission includes discovery and understanding of earth system science; BOEM has described ecosystems in support of science-informed decisions used in responsible stewardship of Arctic environments during development of marine mineral and energy resources; and the Navy’s national security interests include Arctic navigation. The challenging nature of polar oceanographic work requires considerable collaboration across agencies and sharing of limited assets, and USCG and 15 other agencies collaborate and share through regular participation in the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee. In view of the pivotal role of polar oceans in global circulation and earth and ecosystem processes and their national security importance, maintenance of polar oceanographic research capability is vital for the nation. As the agency charged with support of basic research in geosciences and biosciences, NSF is the largest federal sponsor of polar oceanographic projects and takes a leading role in operating research vessels on behalf of the nation. NSF owns or operates three ice-capable vessels: the Research Vessel (R/V) Sikuliaq, the R/V Laurence M. Gould (Gould), and the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer (Palmer). While NSF is the primary sponsor of cruises on the Sikuliaq, the Palmer, and the Gould, other agencies, such as NOAA, ONR, and NASA, have acquired ship time on these vessels through interagency cooperative arrangements for their own mission- related science. Funding agencies also have access to the USCG Cutter Healy, a medium icebreaker built as a science platform to support research and agency objectives primarily in the Arctic. The Healy has significant science capability and is available for science cruises for 3 or 4 months per year, primarily on behalf of NSF, NOAA, and ONR. NSF’s Antarctic Program also requires a heavy icebreaker to open a shipping channel to McMurdo Station each year, typically in January. This mission is beyond the icebreaking capability of any of the research icebreakers listed above, including that of the Healy. The 14 The most recent Report on the Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research appears at https://www.arctic.gov/reports_goals.html.

16 channel extends from the ice edge as far as 100 miles to McMurdo Station’s ice pier and allows vessels carrying food, fuel, and other supplies to reach the station, where they are stored or distributed to field camps or Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. In the past, this function has been served by the heavy icebreakers Polar Sea or Polar Star. As these ships fell into disrepair, the Antarctic Program has been required to charter foreign vessels, such as the Russian icebreakers Krasin and Vladimir Ignatyuk and the Swedish icebreaker Oden, to fulfill its mission of maintaining research stations and supporting science. The charter approach has distinct drawbacks. After several years of successfully breaking the channel to McMurdo and supporting the U.S.–Swedish science partnership, the Swedish Maritime Administration determined that Oden was needed in the Arctic year-round and therefore withdrew from the arrangement (O’Rourke 2017b). The Krasin conducted the 2006 breakout of McMurdo but lost a propeller during the mission. Although it completed the mission, the Krasin was unavailable afterward, having been chartered by a private company to work in the Arctic (NRC 2007). The lack of available heavy icebreakers has created a critical gap in needed services. While U.S. vessels provide significant access to ice-covered regions, the lack of heavy icebreaking capability has limited the research community to questions in regions accessible to medium icebreakers at best. The need for research-capable heavy icebreakers has been acknowledged in numerous studies (NRC 2007; NRC 2014; UNOLS 2012). However, the construction of a dedicated, science-capable heavy icebreaker is costly, and no single science agency has a sufficient budget to undertake it. Scientists have sailed on heavy icebreakers such as the Polar Sea and the Polar Star and have obtained novel data that would otherwise be unavailable to the research community, because those ships can access ice-covered regions inaccessible by other research vessels, including the Healy. For example, data collected during the Trans-Arctic Section in 1994 on the Polar Sea revealed greater-than-expected levels of primary production (Gosselin et al. 1997).15 Similarly, the Oden provided a unique platform and access to Antarctic ice-covered seas that U.S. vessels do not have. However, the Polar Sea, the Polar Star, and the Oden are not built for science, and the ability to conduct science operations on these platforms is limited. Historically, science of opportunity has been accommodated on polar class vessels during the Antarctic breakout and on USCG Arctic deployments, but the scope of such science is limited by the science capabilities of those heavy icebreakers and the time requirements of the primary mission. Increasingly, investigation of research questions requires access to polar seas in winter or deeper penetration into ice-covered regions than current capabilities allow (NRC 2014). The availability of polar icebreakers with a greater capability would enable new research in both regions (NRC 2007). This suggests that a U.S.-owned and -operated heavy icebreaker with scientific capability could serve science agencies and the research community as well as USCG. The Healy is a good example of a science-capable ship that serves USCG as well as the other agencies. 15 For examples of data obtained from USCG heavy icebreakers, see Gosselin et al. 1997, Johnson and Niebauer 1995, and U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory 1996.

17 Changing Conditions and Activity in the Polar Regions The dramatic changes occurring across the Arctic region have been summarized in numerous reports, including the recent Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic assessment, which was developed by leading Arctic scientists (AMAP 2017). As noted in the report, “With each additional year of data, it becomes increasingly clear that the Arctic as we know it is being replaced by a warmer, wetter, and more variable environment. This transformation has profound implications for people, resources, and ecosystems worldwide” (AMAP 2017, 3). The assessment notes that sea ice thickness in the Arctic Ocean during the summer has declined by 65 percent between 1975 and 2012, and sea ice extent (while variable) also shows a long-term downward trend. Such changes actually increase ice-related hazards, because sea ice is becoming more mobile and less predictable. The Arctic Ocean will continue to be ice covered during the winter season, but the lengthening of the shoulder seasons and the ice-free summer season provide greater opportunity and temptation for vessel access. As once-inaccessible waters have opened up, human industrial and economic activity related to oil and gas exploration and production, mining, fishing, commercial shipping, and tourism has grown rapidly (GAO 2016; O’Rourke 2017a). These activities raise opportunities for economic growth and development of Arctic-based communities, but they also raise many risks that could affect a fragile Arctic ecosystem and lead to greater likelihood of events requiring icebreaker responses. Changes in the Arctic environment can have numerous global-scale influences as well— for example, through sea level rise (from loss of the Greenland ice sheet), feedbacks that amplify global climate change (from permafrost carbon emissions and changing albedo due to loss of ice and snow cover), influences on mid-latitude weather patterns (from Arctic warming influences on the behavior of the jet stream), and risks to major fisheries resources (NRC 2015a). The protections of the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959, have lessened the impact of human activities in Antarctica. However, the Antarctic continent and the Southern Ocean have important influences on the Earth system, including ocean circulation, the distribution of heat and regulation of climate, and the potential for significant sea level rise with loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (NRC 2015b). Access to the region helps the scientific community to improve its understanding of how Antarctic influences can affect U.S. national interests. Current Capacity The United States requires a reliable polar icebreaker fleet to project an active and influential national presence in the polar regions throughout the year. As mentioned above, USCG has three multimission polar icebreakers in its inventory: the Polar Star, the Polar Sea, and the Healy (see Table B-1). In addition to performing the statutory missions of other USCG ships, the polar icebreakers support scientific research. Of the three, only the Polar Star and the Healy remain in active service. The Polar Sea was removed from service in 2011 after a major engine casualty in 2010, and it remains out of service. The Polar Star’s life extension in 2011–2012 is estimated to end between 2020 and 2024. The original design service life for polar icebreakers is 30 years. Of its two polar icebreakers, USCG reports that only the Polar Star is regarded as a “heavy” polar icebreaker capable of independently performing the annual breakout and resupply of McMurdo Station in the Antarctic. The Healy is a younger ship, commissioned in 2000, but it is a less

18 powerful icebreaker than those of the polar class and cannot operate independently at various times of the year in the Arctic and the Antarctic. The Polar Star currently performs one annual mission—the McMurdo resupply. On its return from the Antarctic, the Polar Star goes into dry dock for maintenance and repairs. The TABLE B-1 Current USCG Polar Icebreaker Information Polar Icebreaker LOA (feet) Beam (feet) Maxi mum Power (HP) Displaceme nt (tons) Year Entered Service (years in service) Icebreaking Capability at 3 knots (feet) Crew Size Detachmenta Polar Star 399 83.5 75,000 13,200 1976 (41) 6 134– 146 20–35 Polar Sea 399 83.5 75,000 13,200 1978 (39) 6 134– 146 20–35 Healy 420 82.0 30,000 16,000 2000 (17) 4.5 67– 85 35–50 NOTE: HP = horsepower; LOA = length overall. a Detachments can include scientists and other personnel. SOURCE: NRC 2007; ABS Consulting 2010b; DHS 2013; O’Rourke 2017b. Table generated by the committee. loss of its only heavy polar icebreaker would leave the United States without a key capability.16 In view of the physical nature of icebreaking, the age of the ship, and the condition of its critical systems, the ship requires annual dry-docking to maintain its capacity. Concerns that the Polar Star could become stuck in the ice while performing its mission (without adequate redundancy in the fleet) or might not be able to leave dry dock in any given year are legitimate. The Polar Star’s reliability will continue to decline and its maintenance costs will continue to grow as its operating systems and technology become increasingly obsolete. The Polar Sea, inactive since its 2010 engine casualty, has become a parts donor for the Polar Star. There is considerable risk in assuming that the Polar Star can remain fully operational until 2020–2024, even with its recent extensive revitalization (ABS Consulting 2011). Current and Future Needs The need for the United States to maintain polar icebreaking capability and sovereign presence and leadership in the polar regions has been reaffirmed in studies for more than 30 years (USCG 1984; USCG et al. 1990; NRC 2007; DHS 2013; NSC 2014; CFR 2017; see also PDD/NSC-26 and NSPD-66/HSPD-25). The 2007 National Research Council (NRC) committee stated that the U.S. national presence in the high latitude regions required reliable year-round access by ships 16 USCG Commandant, ADM Paul Zukunft, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 3, 2017.

19 that could break thick, multiyear ice and that are operated by USCG to support its statutory requirements (NRC 2007). To meet U.S. national interests, the 2007 report recommended construction of two new polar icebreakers to replace the Polar Sea and the Polar Star and preservation of the number of heavy-duty polar icebreakers in the U.S. fleet at that time. Two ships were needed to meet simultaneous operations, maintenance, and redundancy requirements. Although it is not a formalized agency agreement, the U.S. Navy’s 2010 Naval Operations Concept (NOC) for Implementing Maritime Strategy describes how the U.S. Navy and USCG operate together to fulfill the Navy’s need for continuous icebreaker presence in the Arctic and the Antarctic.17 According to the NOC document, “Emerging and expanding missions in the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Regions highlight the importance of these vessels in the context of the National Fleet” (U.S. Navy 2010, 91). Icebreakers align with five of six parts of the Navy’s Maritime Strategy Core Capabilities, including forward presence, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, sea control, and deterrence, and “are the only means of providing assured surface access” (U.S. Navy 2010, 92). The 2010 NOC document calls for a continuous surface ship presence in both the Arctic and the Antarctic to ensure access to and assertion of U.S. policy in the two polar regions. Maintaining presence in the regions requires three polar icebreakers each for the Arctic and the Antarctic. Accordingly, the current fleet is not able to meet the continuous presence requirement in either polar region, nor does the current fleet meet a requirement for redundancy. The High Latitude Study Mission Analysis Report, released in 2010, identified USCG’s responsibilities in the Arctic and the Antarctic and projected USCG’s activities during the next 30 years. The report indicates capability and capacity gaps and how those gaps will affect USCG’s mission areas. In the Arctic, the following four missions will be significantly affected: defense readiness; ice operations; marine environmental protection; and ports, waterways, and coastal security. In the Antarctic, capability and capacity gaps will significantly affect defense readiness and ice operations (see Figure B-1). FIGURE B-1 Impacts of gaps on performance of USCG’s 11 missions. (Source: ABS Consulting 2010a, 10, Table 3). 17 The 2010 NOC document states the following: “The current Icebreaker demand requires a 1.0 presence in the Arctic and 1.0 in the Antarctic” (U.S. Navy 2010, 101, Endnote 30).

20 Future gaps may affect recurring mission requirements, such as the McMurdo resupply, and could affect USCG’s readiness to respond to less predictable, quickly occurring events, such as those involving the use of military capabilities. The rapid aging and deterioration of the USCG polar icebreaker fleet are the main reasons for this mission impact (ABS Consulting 2010a). According to Title 14 of the U.S. Code, the United States has an obligation to maintain its polar icebreaking capacity. To mitigate the growing icebreaking capability gap requires the country to recapitalize its polar icebreaking fleet. USCG is the one federal government organization that is mandated to conduct operations involving icebreaking, law enforcement, and military exercises. The authoring committee of the 2007 NRC report identified three serious gaps arising from reduced icebreaking capability: ability to perform the McMurdo break-in and resupply, USCG missions in the Arctic, and guaranteed access to ice-covered seas (NRC 2007, 81). On the basis of modeling, the High Latitude Study concludes that USCG requires up to six icebreakers—three heavy and three medium polar icebreakers—to accomplish its statutory missions. To maintain the continuous presence in both polar regions called for in the NOC 2010 document, USCG requires six heavy and four medium icebreakers. Figure B-2 summarizes USCG’s requirements for meeting its mission demands in the high latitude regions and indicates that the required number of icebreakers does vary on the basis of statutory missions. Failure to recapitalize the nation’s polar icebreaking capability will leave USCG unable to maintain an active and influential presence or to meet current and projected mission demands in the polar regions (DHS 2013). FIGURE B-2 Summary of icebreaker capacity demand and current capacity gap. IB = icebreaker. (Source: DHS 2013, 9, Table 1.3.3.) As described above, USCG is a military service and branch of the United States armed forces, according to Title 14 of the U.S. Code, and the primary provider of icebreaking capabilities. USCG oversees 11 statutory missions (listed above) that are clearly documented; nine of the 11 missions encompass polar ice operations. Previous studies have shown the need for polar icebreakers to fulfill USCG statutory missions and to meet other national goals. These studies have indicated ever-widening gaps in the nation’s ability to meet its requirements in the high latitude regions. Addressing Limited Capability As detailed in Appendix D, the committee offers an acquisition strategy that will address these gaps. In addition, the committee presents design and cost projections for new polar icebreakers.

21 While the Mission Need Statement indicates that “a fleet of up to six” polar icebreakers (three heavy and three medium) may be required, the committee suggests that four heavy icebreakers will meet the current capacity and capability gaps identified in the Mission Need Statement. The first three heavy icebreakers would meet USCG’s need for its statutory missions and a continuous presence in the Arctic, and the fourth heavy icebreaker could perform the annual McMurdo breakout, with one of the first three icebreakers providing emergency backup. As noted in Appendix D, designing for a single class of polar icebreaker rather than for two (one heavy and one medium) is likely to provide considerable cost savings. In addition, the acquisition strategy calls for a block buy for the four ships. The cost projection for the fourth heavy icebreaker suggests that it could be built for a lower cost than the first ship of a medium icebreaker class, which would provide additional savings. Once the new polar icebreakers are in service, USCG can reassess the capacity gap and determine whether additional ships are needed. Transition Strategy The authors of the 2007 NRC report emphasized not only the need to build new polar icebreakers but also the need to maintain USCG’s existing polar class icebreaker (the Polar Sea) as the interim capability during construction. The 2007 NRC report presented two strategies to keep the Polar Sea operational through 2014 as a backup to the new proposed polar icebreakers. Both strategies depended on the Polar Sea receiving its major maintenance upgrade in 2006. The first strategy required the Polar Sea to be taken out of service for more than an entire year. The second strategy placed the Polar Sea in an enhanced maintenance program (EMP) to receive specific annual upgrades but allowed the ship to stay in service for the rest of the year. Both strategies targeted major systems of the Polar Sea identified for replacement or upgrades (NRC 2007, 87–88): • Engine and propulsion system, • Black and gray water systems, • Boilers and evaporators, • Cranes, • Navigation and electronic systems, • Controllable pitch propeller systems and hydraulic control, • Habitation spaces and systems, and • Science laboratory facilities. However as of 2017, the Polar Sea is no longer being maintained for use as a polar icebreaker; it is now considered a parts donor in support of the Polar Star. The current committee’s notional total program schedule for the construction of four new polar icebreakers assumes a start date for the first polar icebreaker in the third or fourth quarter of 2019, as estimated by USCG. Such a schedule would commission the first ship in May 2024 and the second ship in July 2025 (see Appendix D, Figure D-2, for total program schedule). Even if this schedule is met, USCG may need to keep the Polar Star operational as a backup until the second new polar icebreaker is commissioned. As did the authoring committee of the 2007 report, the current committee suggests that USCG implement an EMP as a strategy for keeping

22 the Polar Star mission capable until July 2025. As mentioned above, continued operation of the Polar Star does introduce additional risk, including that of catastrophic failure. While touring the Polar Star in April 2017, the committee learned from the engineering staff that the ship is placed in dry dock annually for maintenance—primarily because of the controllable pitch propeller18 units. This annual maintenance ranges in cost from $2 million to $9 million and averages an estimated $5 million. Implementation of an EMP could allow the Polar Star to receive necessary upgrades and continue to operate until the second new polar icebreaker is in service. If the EMP is performed in conjunction with the ship’s current annual dry-docking, the committee believes that the Polar Star’s operational life could be extended through 2025. USCG could develop the EMP specifically for the Polar Star, with upgrades, repairs, and replacements of critical operating components recognized by the current engineering staff and originally identified as issues in the Polar Sea 10 years earlier. The EMP could address maintenance and performance problems with the controllable pitch propeller systems, evaporators and boilers, engine gears, main propulsion systems, and sanitation systems. In the committee’s judgment, the proposed EMP could be scheduled and accomplished within USCG’s present service availability for the Polar Star and within the current average annual expenditures estimated at $5 million.19 References Abbreviations ABS American Bureau of Shipping AMAP Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme CFR Council on Foreign Relations DHS Department of Homeland Security GAO Government Accountability Office NRC National Research Council NSC National Security Council UNOLS University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System USCG U.S. Coast Guard ABS Consulting. 2010a. United States Coast Guard High Latitude Region Mission Analysis (HLRMA) Capstone Summary. Arlington, Va. ABS Consulting. 2010b. United States Coast Guard High Latitude Study Mission Analysis (HLRMA) Report Volume 1: Polar Icebreaking Needs. Arlington, Va. ABS Consulting. 2011. U.S. Polar Icebreaker Recapitalization: A Comprehensive Analysis and Its Impacts on U.S. Coast Guard Activities. Arlington, Va. 18 More detail about maintenance issues with controllable pitch propellers is given by USCG 2013, p. 6. 19 Approximate costs of major system upgrades for the Polar Star and estimates for the Polar Sea are given by USCG 2013, Appendix B.

23 AMAP. 2017. Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA). Summary for Policy- Makers. Oslo, Norway. http://www.amap.no/documents/download/2888. Arctic Council. 2009. Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009 Report. http://www.institutenorth.org/assets/images/uploads/articles/AMSA_2009_Report_2nd_print.pdf CFR. 2017. Arctic Imperatives Reinforcing U.S. Strategy on America’s Fourth Coast. New York. DHS. 2013. Polar Icebreaker Recapitalization Project Mission Need Statement Version 1.0. Washington, D.C. GAO. 2016. Coast Guard: Arctic Strategy Is Underway, but Agency Could Better Assess How Its Actions Mitigate Known Arctic Capability Gaps. GAO-16-453. Washington, D.C. Gosselin, M., M. Levasseur, P. A. Wheeler, R. A. Horner, and B. C. Booth. 1997. New Measurements of Phytoplankton and Ice Algal Production in the Arctic Ocean. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, Vol. 44, No. 8, pp. 1623–1625, 1627–1644. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064597000544. Johnson, M., and H. J. Niebauer. 1995. The 1992 Summer Circulation in the Northeast Water Polynya from Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler Measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 100, No. C3, pp. 4301–4307. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/94JC01981/pdf. NRC. 2007. Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World: An Assessment of U.S. Needs. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. NRC. 2014. The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. NRC. 2015a. Arctic Matters: The Global Connection to Changes in the Arctic. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. NRC. 2015b. Sea Change: 2015–2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. NRC. 2015c. A Strategic Vision for NSF Investments in Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. NSC. 2014. Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. White House, Washington, D.C. http://www.virginia.edu/colp/pdf/national-strategy-arctic-region.pdf. O’Rourke, R. 2017a. Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., May 16. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41153.pdf.

24 O’Rourke, R. 2017b. Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., March 20. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RL34391.pdf. UNOLS. 2012. A New U.S. Polar Research Vessel (PRV): Science Drivers and Vessel Requirements. Final Report of the UNOLS PRV SMR Refresh Committee. U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. 1996. The 1994 Arctic Ocean Section: The First Major Scientific Crossing of the Arctic Ocean. Special Report 96-23. Hanover, N.H. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a322259.pdf. USCG. 1984. United States Polar Icebreaker Requirements Study. Washington, D.C. USCG. 2013. USCGC Polar Sea Business Case Analysis: 2013 Report to Congress. Washington, D.C., Nov. 7. USCG, Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, NSF, and Office of Management and Budget. 1990. Polar Icebreaker Requirements Report. Washington, D.C., Oct. U.S. Navy. 2010. Naval Operations Concept 2010: Implementing the Maritime Strategy. White House. 2013. National Strategy for the Arctic Region. Washington, D.C., May 10. White House. 2014. Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/implementation_plan_for_the_nati onal_strategy_for_the_arctic_region_-_fi....pdf. White House. 2015. Executive Order 13689—Enhancing Coordination of National Efforts in the Arctic (3 CFR 13689, Executive Order 13689). Washington, D.C., Jan. 21.

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On July 11, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Polar Icebreaker Cost Assessment released a letter report that advises the U.S. Congress on strategies to minimize life-cycle costs of polar icebreaker acquisition and operations. The Committee recommends the number and type of polar icebreakers to fund and an acquisition strategy that achieves a lower cost.

The Committee developed an independent cost estimate using available concept designs to determine if the U.S. Coast Guard’s existing cost estimates for heavy and medium icebreakers are reasonable. It also compared operating costs of the current fleet to the prospective operating costs of new vessels. The Committee recommends a science-ready design for the new icebreakers and the use of an enhanced maintenance program to ensure continuity of operations for existing icebreakers.

This letter report is mandated by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015, and sponsored by the USCG. View the press release.

View a video summarizing the report findings:

On July 25, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing that examines the U.S. Coast Guard’s infrastructure and acquisition needs, and includes the testimony of Rear Admiral Richard D. West (Navy Ret.) who served as Chair for the Committee on Polar Icebreaker Cost Assessment. Witness statements are available online, and the video of the hearing is below:

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