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

Chapter: 6. Appendix E: Icebreaking Fleets of Other Nations

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Suggested Citation:"6. Appendix E: Icebreaking Fleets of Other Nations." 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:"6. Appendix E: Icebreaking Fleets of Other Nations." 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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Page 94
Page 95
Suggested Citation:"6. Appendix E: Icebreaking Fleets of Other Nations." 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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Page 95
Page 96
Suggested Citation:"6. Appendix E: Icebreaking Fleets of Other Nations." 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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Page 96

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85 Appendix E Icebreaking Fleets of Other Nations In assessing the icebreaking fleets of countries, the distinction between government-controlled icebreakers, privately controlled icebreakers, and commercial ice-strengthened vessels with limited icebreaking capability is important. From the committee’s perspective, the measure of a country’s ability to project presence in the polar regions is based on the number and capability of its government-controlled icebreakers. The committee used the following three factors to assess the icebreaker capability of a country’s polar icebreaking fleet: government control of vessels, polar or nonpolar activity, and power and size of vessels. • Government control—Are the icebreakers owned and manned by the country in which they are flagged (registered)? Are the icebreakers functional in the polar regions? Are the icebreakers controlled by commercially oriented companies? For example, the Russian Federation icebreakers operated by Rosmorport or Rosatomflot are considered government controlled. However, icebreakers registered and operated by a commercially oriented company, such as Far Eastern Shipping Company in the Russian Federation, are not considered government controlled. • Dedicated to nonpolar activity—If an icebreaker is government owned and controlled but dedicated to nonpolar activity, it is not included in the committee’s assessment of another nations’ polar icebreaking capability. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG’s) Mackinaw is dedicated to icebreaking on the Great Lakes but is not included in U.S. polar icebreaking capability. Likewise, the Botnica, used in icebreaking for Estonia’s ports, is not counted as a government-controlled polar icebreaker in this assessment. • Large and powerful enough for polar icebreaking service—The committee’s starting census of global icebreakers is based on the IHS–Markit Sea-web vessel database. An icebreaker’s ability to break ice is a function of its installed horsepower, hull form, and size. Sea-web indicates installed horsepower for all of the designated icebreakers in the database. To determine whether a ship has an icebreaking hull form, its designation as an “icebreaker” is relied on. While displacement would be a good starting point in determining a vessel’s ability to break ice, displacement47 is not available for most icebreakers. Gross tonnage, a volumetric measure (1 ton equals 100 cubic feet) of the enclosed space of a ship, is available for all the icebreakers in the Sea-web database. Icebreakers with propulsion plants exceeding 14,000 kilowatts and exceeding 4,000 gross tons were included in the determination of polar capability. This is a rough “filtering” of available data, but it provides an indication of a country’s polar icebreaking capability. Some icebreaking vessels are categorized as “research vessels (with ice capability)” but are not considered as “icebreakers”; the Sikuliaq is an example. The committee also reviewed the icebreakers included on USCG’s Major Icebreakers of the World chart (see the end of this appendix).48 47 Displacement is the total weight of the water displaced by a vessel at its design draft. 48 The chart can be found at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg552/ice.asp.

86 Arctic Nation Icebreakers The following eight “Arctic” countries are members of the Arctic Council: the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, and Sweden. Polar icebreaking fleets of the Arctic nations are identified in Table E-1. TABLE E-1 Polar Icebreakers of Arctic Nations Country Existing Under Construction Laid Up Total Canada 3 0 0 3 Finland 7 0 0 7 Norway 1 1 0 2 Russia 16 4 2 22 Sweden 4 0 0 4 United States 2 0 1 3 Denmark 0 0 0 0 Total 33 5 3 41 SOURCE: Generated by the committee on the basis of data from http://maritime.ihs.com/. The two U.S. icebreakers (existing) are the Polar Star and the Healy; the Polar Sea is in the “laid-up” category. The Russian Federation has two nuclear-powered polar icebreakers and two large diesel-powered icebreakers under construction. Norway has the Kronprins Haakon under construction. The committee notes that the “under construction” category—identified as “launched” or “keel laid”—may be understated because of lack of data for some icebreakers under construction. Denmark did not have any icebreakers that met the “polar capable, government-owned icebreaker” category. Non-Arctic Nation Icebreakers The countries with polar capable, government-owned icebreakers that are not Arctic nations are included in Table E-2. The Chinese government owns an icebreaker. The Xue Long was built in 1993 and is 15,352 gross tons. Its propulsion plant of 13,200 kilowatts is just under the committee’s 14,000-kilowatt lower limit. TABLE E-2 Polar Icebreakers of Non-Arctic Nations Country Existing Under Construction Laid Up Total Argentina 0 0 1 1 Germany 1 0 0 1 Korea, South 1 0 0 1 Japan 1 0 0 1 United Kingdom 0 1 0 1 Total 3 1 1 5 SOURCE: Generated by the committee on the basis of data from http://maritime.ihs.com/.

87 Major Icebreakers of the World Source: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg552/ice.asp (Updated May 1, 2017)

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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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