Another reason why the US needs to build some serious new bigassed icebreakers


“The first rule of government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?”

Or in this case, twenty more for 20% more a piece.


We obviously need Nuclear powered LCSs. This must be a top priority if we want those other nations to take us seriously. We’re trying so hard to save the world and they’re not taking us seriously guyssss. I am being super serial.


[QUOTE=c.captain;149815]… it is so bittersweet that this comes as the Navee announces building yet more aluminum cans[/QUOTE]

Until the admirals see glory and defense contractor jobs coming from service on an icebreaker this country will not have any. The only reason the CG has them is because the Navy doesn’t take the CG seriously and no starry eyed Navy officer sees any glory in breaking ice where no on can see him.

None of this stuff has anything to do with national security, it’s all about money, medals, glory, and a retirement job.


bringing this thread back to life with an interesting and well written op/ed from Maritime Executive

[B]Mission Impossible: A New U.S. Icebreaker[/B]

By MarEx 2015-02-24

Op-Ed by Adam Patrick Murray, J.D.

Congress used the 2014 Coast Guard authorization bill to force the service into a decision it has avoided since 2010: whether to decommission or reactivate the icebreaker Polar Sea. The decision is difficult because the U.S.’s future icebreaking needs remain highly speculative. It is compounded by disagreements among the Coast Guard leadership, the President, Members of Congress and representatives of the State of Alaska on what course to take.

The Coast Guard currently has two operational polar icebreakers, the Polar Star and Healy, in addition to the deactivated Polar Sea. The discussion about whether the U.S. needs another has become a complex of thorny issues ranging from austerity budgeting to climate change.

A January 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service compiled the relevant facts, revealing a tension between Coast Guard, presidential and congressional priorities without explaining why these may never align. To evaluate that issue, we examine the icebreaker’s role in Coast Guard missions and then consider how the decision-makers’ opinions about Arctic development may influence their calculus.

Polar Icebreakers Perform Specialized Missions

According to the report, “…icebreakers are multi-mission ships that can break through ice, support scientific research missions, and perform other missions typically performed by Coast Guard ships.” Polar Star and Polar Sea can cut through thick ice typical in much of Antarctica. Polar Star’s primary mission supports Antarctic research at McMurdo Station. Healy can break through only thinner ice and primarily supports Arctic research.

Icebreakers sometimes perform other Coast Guard functions. For example, Healy was within reach last summer when a private sailor surrounded by gathering Arctic ice needed the Coast Guard to break him out. Other examples exist, but the main use of these ships’ icebreaking capacity is to advance scientific understanding of ice-covered areas.

The Coast Guard considers current capability sufficient to meet existing needs. However, Vice Admiral Charles Ray, Commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area, described the situation as uncomfortably “one deep.” When Polar Star goes south for the Austral summer, the Coast Guard puts Healy in annual maintenance. When Healy goes north, Polar Star goes into maintenance. Generally, the Coast Guard has only one of these ships available at a time.

An almost immeasurably small amount of this takes place in polar ice. The Coast Guard accomplishes the rest without polar icebreakers.

The Coast Guard Prioritizes Acquiring Vessels Used More Frequently Than Icebreakers

The Coast Guard motto—Semper Paratus—means “always ready.” The agency must maintain a fleet of vessels prepared to fulfill this promise. According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, the Coast Guard initiated its current acquisition effort in the late 1990s after determining that many of its assets would reach their retirement age within several years of one another.

The aging icebreaker fleet is one component of this effort. In an era of sequestration, however, the Coast Guard must proceed in order of priority. Austerity funding forces the Coast Guard to delay some recapitalization efforts.

Last year it operated 1,566 aging cutters, boats and aircraft. The President proposed a 2015 Coast Guard budget that would dedicate $1.08 billion to Acquisition, Construction, and Improvements (AC&I), including $803 million for vessels. Given the average Coast Guard day described above, it should surprise no one that the Coast Guard proposes to spend 93 percent of the AC&I vessel budget on National Security Cutters (NSCs) and Fast Response Cutters (FSCs) central to its most common operations and less than one percent on Polar Icebreakers. After finishing the NSCs and FRCs, the Coast Guard will launch its largest capitalization project ever, the new Offshore Patrol Cutters.

For existing operations, adding a new icebreaker would primarily add a redundancy in assets necessary only to resupply McMurdo Station, a mission the National Science Foundation accomplished without Coast Guard icebreakers while the Polar Star underwent repairs. Admiral Robert Papp, the former Coast Guard Commandant and current Special Representative for the Arctic, put it to Congress bluntly: “I can’t afford to pay for an icebreaker in a one billion dollar [budget] because it would just displace other things that I have a higher priority for.”

The President’s Arctic Agenda Does Not Require Increased Icebreaking Capacity

President Obama probably agrees with Admiral Papp’s assessment. Within existing budget constraints and considering the President’s broader policy goals, he is unlikely to reorder Coast Guard priorities. It takes no more than a snapshot of the President’s Arctic agenda to understand why.

First, the need for new polar icebreakers depends mostly on the amount and kind of maritime activity in the U.S. Arctic. The Antarctic represents a very small part of Coast Guard operations, but the agency must serve all offshore areas along Alaska’s 6,640 mile coastline. The Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment identified resource development as the key driver of future Arctic marine activity.

While diminishing sea ice opens new Arctic shipping and development possibilities, these have yet to significantly materialize in the U.S. One reason is the lack of Coast Guard icebreaker support for development activities. For icebreakers to surpass the other cutters’ priority level, the U.S. would need to experience either (1) substantial Arctic development, or (2) an overwhelming desire to provide icebreaker support so that more development would occur.

Existing activities include Bering Sea traffic and Shell’s plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer. These activities represent a miniscule fraction of the Coast Guard’s average day and may not require icebreaking. The truth is that people who want more Arctic development assign a much higher priority to icebreaker acquisition than those who envision a less-developed Arctic.

Second, President Obama pursues some policies that are not compatible with substantial Arctic development. Beyond taking certain Arctic areas out of development consideration entirely, he actively seeks a major new global climate change agreement, evidenced by his Joint Announcement on Climate Change with China last November. In the politics of global climate change, the leader of one of the world’s richest and historically most-polluting countries simply cannot gain carbon emission concessions from poorer, developing countries while supporting new carbon exploration in one of the world’s most sensitive, high-risk environments.

Good faith requires the President to show that the U.S. will make a real sacrifice. Foregoing some level of Arctic oil exploration sends that message. Active promotion of Arctic development sends the opposite message. The President may achieve his Arctic vision without increased icebreaking capacity. His Arctic Strategy and Implementation Plan requires the Coast Guard only to maintain icebreaking capabilities sufficient to project U.S. sovereignty, support U.S. interests and facilitate research.

Third, Coast Guard officials indicated at several congressional hearings that Healy and Polar Star meet current requirements so long as they remain operational. In fact, Healy alone may meet those needs based on the President’s vision of limited Arctic development and the ability to resupply McMurdo in other ways. The Coast Guard and the President would certainly find that situation uncomfortable, but given existing budget constraints the President’s overall Arctic priorities do not support spending roughly $1 billion on a new icebreaker or even $100 to $400 million to reactivate the Polar Sea.

Under the President’s vision, icebreaker acquisition may not achieve priority until it reaches what Vice Admiral Ray might call “zero deep,” the situation once Healy is the only polar icebreaker with enough service life left to cover the time it would take to build a new one.

Congress Forces a Polar Sea Decision While Austerity Continues

Congress has a different plan that is still only half-baked. It seems to envision an Arctic with increased icebreaker needs but has not resolved the austerity dilemma. Congress emphasized Arctic operations by devoting an entire title to the subject in the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014. The Act requires the Coast Guard to decommission or rebuild Polar Sea. If it decommissions the ship, Congress requires a written plan to maintain icebreaking services through 2024. Congress also requires a document outlining Coast Guard icebreaking strategies though 2050.

This could force the Coast Guard to assign icebreaking a higher priority. The Coast Guard probably could not design, build and launch a replacement before Polar Star’s service life ends around 2022, and none of the three existing vessels could realistically last through 2050.

If the option to reactivate Polar Sea vanishes, any realistic strategy must include either a new icebreaker or reduced service. Congress stands poised to appropriate just $1.2 billion for 2015 Coast Guard acquisitions. For 2016, the Coast Guard proposes to spend only $4 million on icebreaker acquisition. If the U.S. is to have a new polar icebreaker, someone needs a new position.

Any Icebreaker Decision Must Consider the Indeterminate Russian Threat

The wisdom of austerity and the desired extent of Arctic development are not the only opinions that matter. Any icebreaker decision faces a mission impossible: Calculate the Russian threat. The new report indicates Russia has seven icebreakers as capable as Healy and six nuclear-powered icebreakers that exceed Polar Star and Polar Sea’s capabilities. Russia remains cooperative in international fora like the Arctic Council and the International Maritime Organization but also spent much of 2014 building Arctic military capabilities.

To be fair, Russia’s need for Arctic military support surpasses that of the U.S. Its Arctic coastline is nearly 15 times longer than Alaska’s. The Russian Arctic already has significantly increased shipping and development activity. Also, the U.S. Navy’s 2014 Arctic Roadmap projects a low-threat security environment in the Arctic, characterized by peaceful resolution of differences.

Still, former Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, whose testimony appears in the new report, expressed deep concerns at a recent conference in Seattle about a potential U.S. dependence on Russia’s vastly superior icebreaking capacity. Reasonable minds may disagree about whether this amounts to a threat, but icebreaker decision-makers must register a related opinion.

Private Icebreaking May Work for Private Companies, but Not the Coast Guard

Some Alaskans (including Treadwell and Representative Don Young) have suggested for years that the U.S. consider privately built and operated icebreakers for at least some Arctic operations. The report suggests this idea has several fatal flaws, at least for the Coast Guard.

First, apparently no existing ships have the required capabilities. Second, any private option would likely cost U.S. taxpayers more than either building or rebuilding an icebreaker. Even a leased ship would need to be designed and built for Coast Guard use. Admiral Papp suggested such an arrangement might require enough upfront Coast Guard spending to blow the budget while still leaving the service without a ship to call its own. Moreover, any company that designed, built, and owned such a ship would lease it only at a profit. Taxpayers could avoid paying for that profit if the Coast Guard owned the ship.

The report indicates that a leased ship, possibly even privately crewed but under Coast Guard command, could legally fulfill Coast Guard missions. Yet it also suggests that “the inherently governmental missions of the Coast Guard must be performed using government-owned and operated vessels.” Private companies may, and perhaps should, contract and pay for their own icebreaking services. But the Coast Guard has probably decided against a lease option, albeit without entirely killing the idea.

Under austerity funding, the Coast Guard is not likely to prioritize a new icebreaker until the need is more developed. Doing otherwise would require a major reimagining of how the average Coast Guard day should inform the acquisition priorities. It would require a speculative approach to Coast Guard spending that neither the service nor the President seem inclined to adopt. Unless Congress has a new financial plan, we have yet to see just how thin U.S. icebreaker coverage might spread before a new U.S. ship breaks Arctic ice. - MarEx

Adam Murray is a Research Fellow at the University of Washington’s Arctic Law & Policy Institute.


Speaking of private icebreaking, what are the capabilities of Chouest’s Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould? And what specific role have they had in supporting the US Antarctic Program?


Doesn’t the USCG have another red hull on the Great Lakes? Mackinaw or something?


[QUOTE=Gimli;155454]Speaking of private icebreaking, what are the capabilities of Chouest’s Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould? And what specific role have they had in supporting the US Antarctic Program?[/QUOTE]

both are contracted to the National Science Foundation. I had heard that with funding cutbacks the PALMER’s operting days every year was cut back to only a handful and otherwise spent most of its time alongside in Ushuaia which must be alot like being stuck alongside in Dutch Harbor most of the time during winter. I don’t know if the same holds true for the GOULD?

But speaking for private icebreakers, nothing novel with that at all. The Finns use lots of private vessels to keep the Baltic open in winter as I imagine the Swedes do as well?

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[QUOTE=jbtam99;155455]Doesn’t the USCG have another red hull on the Great Lakes? Mackinaw or something?[/QUOTE]

They do…and BUTT FUCKING UGLY too!

God, how I loathe ships designed by a committee


[QUOTE=c.captain;155457]The Finns use lots of private vessels to keep the Baltic open in winter as I imagine the Swedes do as well?[/QUOTE]

In Finland, the large escort icebreakers are owned and operated by Arctia Shipping which is a 100% state-owned company. While the new icebreaker that is currently under construction was ordered by a government entity (Finnish Transport Agency), I’m quite sure it’ll just end up in Arctia’s fleet. There is one icebreaking tugboat owned by a private towing company that is sometimes hired as extra capacity in the Baltic Sea and another tugboat with a detachable icebreaking bow which is used to extend the shipping season in the canal to our equivalent of the Great Lakes.

As for Sweden, the large icebreakers (Oden and the old quad-shafts) are owned by the Swedish Maritime Administration but the operator is chosen through public tender. However, there are also privately-owned multipurpose icebreaker AHTS vessels owned by Transatlantic (the black-and-yellow ships), but I’m not sure if those have an icebreaking contract anymore.

Most Russian escort icebreakers are owned bygovernment agencies and state-owned companies. Atomflot, as the name implies, is responsible for the nuclear-powered icebreakers while conventional icebreakers are owned by Rosmorport. However, some large icebreakers are also owned by major shipping companies such as Sovcomflot and FESCO, but those do not operate in the Baltic and largely serve the company’s own trade.

In Estonia, the port of Tallinn owns MSV Botnica which they bought from Finland in 2012 (why on earth did they put twelve V12 CATs on an icebreaker…). However, the old quad-shaft Tarmo, purchased from Finland in the 1990s, is owned by the Estonian government.

Latvia has yet another old quad-shaft Finnish escort icebreaker. It is owned by something called “Riga Freeport Authority” which I’m not familiar with.

While most Baltic ports have port tugs with some degree of icebreaking capability, I don’t count them as “real” icebreakers. The same also applies to the USCG Bay class tugs.

Oh, you should have seen some of my early designs. At least on paper, one of the tugboats looked like a pig with Hitler moustache…


[QUOTE=Gimli;155454]Speaking of private icebreaking, what are the capabilities of Chouest’s Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould? And what specific role have they had in supporting the US Antarctic Program?[/QUOTE]

According to this listing, Palmer is capable of breaking 0.9 m (~3 feet?) ice at 3 knots.


This guy looked like he was having fun in the ice the other day up the Hudson. She looked like a sports car on the race track! CGC Stergeon Bay



[B]Coast Guard Analysis Says U.S. Needs 3 Heavy and 3 Medium Icebreakers, Path to Ships Unclear[/B]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Coast Guard has determined — through independent analysis — it needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers to cover the U.S. anticipated needs in the Arctic and Antarctic, commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft, told reporters on Tuesday.

However, how the service gets to that number or how it will pay for the ships is still an open question.

In the next year, the service will know if its laid-up heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB-11) will be worth restoring. In parallel, the service is exploring whether or not to begin the design work for a new class of ships or if leasing foreign ships will be the way for the U.S. to manage its Arctic and Antarctic requirements, Zukunft said.

“It’s either recapitalization with new ships, restore an old ship that may buy you ten years of service,” he said.
“We’ll be able to make an assessment reactivation by next year and at that point we need to move forward but we probably need to move forward in parallel tracks as well so we’re prepared to look at funding set aside, whether it’s for reactivation of an old ship or start preliminary design and construction of a new icebreaker.”

As for leasing icebreakers, legally the Coast Guard can crew the ships and operate a leased ship but the funding for a long-term deal would have to come at the front of an arrangement.

“The challenge with the lease option is you score that lease all up front, you can’t spread the cost out over 30 years and then you lose the flexibility of where and how you operate that ship,” Zukunft said.

The need for the ships is mounting as reduction in the icepack in the Arctic makes the region more attractive to not only natural resources exploration but also tourism and compared to the other Arctic nations.

The current U.S. icebreaker capability is modest.

Currently the Coast Guard has two operational icebreakers — heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) and medium icebreaker USCGC Healy (WAGB-20). The National Science Foundation also leases a research icebreaker — Nathaniel B. Palmer.

In comparison, Russia fields almost 40 with up to a dozen more planned or under construction, according the Coast Guard’s 2013 review of the world’s major icebreakers.

Additionally, U.S. icebreakers have additional missions beyond creating channels for other ships.

“When you look at what do you need an icebreaker to do in the 21st century, first it needs to break ice — obviously — so it needs to have access. It needs to be able to communicate if there’s a contingency in the Arctic, you don’t have shore station you can base out of, it has to be at see, so it has to be a command and control platform (C2),” Zukunft said. “It has to be able to do law enforcement and do scientific research, also do search and rescue and not only that, if you’re operating in the Arctic — under the polar code — we anticipate there will be very stringent environmental requirements which ships that were designed in the 1970s do not meet today in 2015… All of those need to be taken into account if we’re going to operate in 2015.”

The C2 and communications requirements are extremely important. The Arctic is among the most difficult places in the world to operate. Not only because of the cold and lack of human habitation, but because communication and guidance satellites are not optimized for higher latitudes making both tasks exceedingly difficult.

Six different U.S. agencies have missions in the Polar regions and the Coast Guard may insist that those agencies help pay for the ships.

As part of its Fiscal Year 2015 budget, the Coast Guard asked for $6 million towards design work for a new icebreaker class, according to a January Congressional Research Service report. To date, the service has received about $9.6 million in design funds starting in Fiscal Year 2013.


The Coast Guard is in consultation with the Canadians and Finnish ship designers on technology that could end up in a future U.S. icebreaker, the service’s assistant commandant for acquisitions said on Thursday.

“We’re working very closely with the Canadians and the Finns because there’s a small technological base of real ice breaking experts in the world,” Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer said at the .

“We’re trying to keep from recreating the wheel whenever we can.”

e: If someone is doubting whether or not the Finns can still design good icebreakers, take a look at this:


Continuing the discussion from last year, turns out that the triple-pod icebreaker can be adapted for Arctic ice conditions. Check out slide 16 onwards:

RMRS Icebreaker8 is already pretty serious ice class - the ship must be able to continuously break 6 ft of ice and the hull is strengthened for operations in 9 ft thick ice.

By the way, in the past few weeks I’ve seen every nuclear-powered icebreaker ever built. One is a museum, two are defueled and awaiting disposal, two icebreakers and the cargo ship Sevmorput are in lay-up and four were in operation. 70s design or not, it’s quite a sight when the biggest and most powerful icebreaker in the world passes your vessel in 3 ft ice at about 17 knots…


amazingly, here comes a bill in the Senate to build six new icebreakers…will it even get to committee?

[B]Senators introduce bill to build six heavy icebreakers[/B]

By WorkBoat Staff 5/26/2015

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Lisa Murkowski (R- Aalska) have introduced a bill to build six icebreakers. The Icebreaker Recapitalization Act would authorize the U.S. Navy to construct up to six heavy icebreakers. The new icebreakers would be designed and operated by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is the sole service responsible for icebreaking missions.

“Today we take a strong, bipartisan step towards investing in the Coast Guard Arctic infrastructure and operations by calling for serious investments in our polar icebreaking fleet.” Cantwell said. “Our legislation makes sure that the United States is able to protect our interests in the Arctic, and it gives the men and women in the Coast Guard and Navy the tools they need to do their jobs. Icebreakers protect America’s Arctic interests and support Washington state shipbuilding jobs.”

“As an Arctic nation, America must be a global leader towards an Arctic future as this dynamic region opens up to new opportunities; by contrast, countries from Russia to Canada to China to even India see the worth and importance in investing in icebreakers,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus. “From a military perspective, this is an imperative; from an economic development viewpoint, it is a down payment on an Arctic future, and as a scientific research opportunity, it opens up a new world of knowledge.”

According to the Coast Guard High Latitude Study released to Congress four years ago, the U.S. needs six heavy duty and four medium icebreakers to meet the statutory and mission requirements of the Coast Guard and the Navy. However, while Russia, China and other nations are developing their icebreaking capability, the United States has only two operational icebreakers, the heavy icebreaker the Polar Star and medium-duty Healy which was designed for scientific research.

The heavy-duty icebreaker Polar Star was recently retrofitted in Seattle after years in ‘caretaker’ status, having been brought back into service in 2013. A second heavy-duty icebreaker, the Polar Sea is currently at risk for the scrap heap.

Polar ice caps are melting at an unprecedented rate, leaving areas of the Arctic Ocean ice-free in the summer months, creating new challenges for national security, law enforcement, environmental protection, and maritime safety. Increased accessibility makes the Arctic attractive to commercial entities and foreign governments for shipping, tourism, fishing, natural resource development and other economic interests.

The U.S. is lagging behind other Arctic nations such as Russia in developing and maintaining polar icebreakers. Russia operates 11 icebreakers with comparable capabilities to the United States, six more under construction – and plans for five additional icebreakers.

we could easily pay for these if the Senate could see the reality that the LCS’s are useless aluminum cans ready to be disposed of when delivered and divert those billions to these ships. Are they capable? I doubt it…


Another recent article:

[B]New icebreaker for Great Lakes closer to reality[/B]

Earlier this week, out on Lake Superior aboard the research vessel Blue Heron, scientist Jay Austin described some of his research into ice on the Great Lakes.

He talked about ice keels — the submerged undersides of ice ridges that form on the lake. He said the keels, like icebergs, are much larger below the waterline than the ridges are above it.

“The North Shore is a nursery for ice,” said Austin, a University of Minnesota Duluth professor and physical oceanographer who does work for the Large Lakes Observatory located in Duluth. “Then it gets blown around.”

Back-to-back winters of historic ice coverage have reversed a 15-year trend of diminishing ice cover on the Great Lakes. The epic ice coverage of the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 led to difficult and extended ice-out seasons that hurt the shipping industry and led to a drumbeat for more icebreaking resources.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $8.7 billion in funding for the U.S. Coast Guard that would include money for a new Great Lakes icebreaker. The new icebreaker would be similar to the Mackinaw, the only heavy icebreaker among the Coast Guard’s Great Lakes fleet that includes eight other capable but smaller vessels.

“The need is very real,” said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association that represents 16 American companies operating U.S.-flag vessels, including the Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet. “These past two winters we’ve had significant delays and reductions in the amount of cargo that’s been (able) to move.”

April’s shipping totals were down 6 percent from historical averages, with Nekvasil blaming the heavy ice formations in Whitefish Bay on the eastern end of Lake Superior. That early April soup of ice was 8 feet thick in some places, with slabs as big as pickup trucks. It left 18 vessels tied up in the bay, requiring a massive icebreaking effort that drew in the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaking fleet to assist.

The House Transportation Committee responded by authorizing the construction of a new freshwater icebreaker.

“This state-of-the-art ship will be especially designed for freshwater ice, which is much harder to break up than seawater ice,” Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, said in a news release at the time.

Nolan is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His communications director, Steve Johnson, said similar vessels to the one in the funding package approved by the House have cost “in the $240 million range.” The authorizing legislation will need to clear hurdles with the Senate and President before it’s fully approved. Assuming all goes according to plan, Johnson said, the ship would be included in the 2017 Coast Guard appropriations bill, in which Congress will approve the actual amount that can be spent.

In President Barack Obama’s commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy earlier this week, the President gave a hint at his commitment to Coast Guard funding when he said, "These are tight fiscal times for all our services, including the Coast Guard. But we are going to keep working to give you the boats and the cutters and the aircraft that you need to complete the missions we ask of you.

“And I’ve made it clear that I will not accept a budget that continues these draconian budget cuts called sequestration,” the President continued, “because our nation and our military and our Coast Guard deserve better.”

Late this week the Ontario-based Chamber of Marine Commerce weighed in, too, urging reforms and action to ensure greater industrial competitiveness. The group represents more than 150 marine industry stakeholders in Canada and the U.S.

“Our industry can improve its competitive position by increased icebreaker resources to critical regions of the Great Lakes,” said Rick Ruzzin in a news release. Ruzzin is an executive with Compass Minerals, a Kansas-based company with operations in Duluth, and a member of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

All of this has been music to the carriers’ ears.

“We have to recognize that we have to move cargo in the ice season,” Nekvasil said. “The mines want a navigation season from mid-March well into January. That’s just what’s required.”

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., at the eastern end of Lake Superior, close annually on Jan. 15 and reopen March 25. In the weeks before and after those dates, “we can move as much as 20 percent” of overall cargo, Nekvasil said. “We need to minimize stockpiles. (Iron ore) pellets sitting on the ground is a cost we need to minimize.”

Nekvasil said there are nine U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking vessels on the Great Lakes, including the Mackinaw, twin 225-foot cutters — including the Duluth-based cutter Alder — and six 140-foot icebreaking tugs.

“The 225s are really buoy tenders with their bows reinforced,” Nekvasil said. “They’re not designed to do icebreaking; they’re OK for track maintenance, but not good for doing heavy icebreaking.”

The tugs, he said, “do a very good job,” but were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“It’s time for them to be modernized,” Nekvasil said. Currently, the tugs are undergoing modernization on a one-in, one-out rotation, leaving the fleet down a tug throughout what figures to be a three- to five-year update process, Nekvasil said.

The drumbeat for another heavy icebreaker like the 240-foot Mackinaw started during the winter of 2013-14, when the Great Lakes were as much as 92.6 percent covered in ice. Ice out that year on Lake Superior wasn’t declared until June 6.

“The need is obvious,” Nekvasil said, “and they have gotten the message.”

Just get something like this:



In other news, Russia laid the keel for the second Project 22220 (LK-60) series nuclear-powered icebreaker:

The full set of high-quality drawings with official RMRS stamps can be found from a Russian internet forum:


[QUOTE=Tups;126680]That’s something I often forget. Even in the Great Lakes, the escort operations are quite different from what for example the Russians do - none of the US or Canadian icebreakers are fitted for notch towing.

As for the article you linked, I’m always surprised about the estimated price tag of the new USCG polar icebreakers. How can they be so expensive? Still, they are cheaper than many of the warships the US is building at the moment in relatively large numbers…[/QUOTE]

The USCGC MACKINAW is fitted for notch towing.


I stand corrected - the old Mackinaw seems to have a small towing notch. However, how often was it used for close towing?


[QUOTE=Tups;162981]I stand corrected - the old Mackinaw seems to have a small towing notch. However, how often was it used for close towing?[/QUOTE]

I’m not familiar with how often it was used.


thought I’d bring this one back to life

[B]New icebreakers open way for Russia in Arctic[/B]

Russia is building an armada of new icebreakers which will substantially strengthen its presence in Arctic waters.

By Atle Staalesen

The LK-60 is built at the Baltiisky Zavod and will be the world’s most powerful icebreaker. (Photo:

The higher the ambitions in the Arctic, the more icebreakers under construction. That appears to be the case, at least for Russia. The country currently has at least 14 icebreakers under construction and several more under planning.

In addition, several other kinds of icebreaking vessels are under construction, among them special LNG tankers.

The construction of the new vessels is all concentrated on yards located in and around St Petersburg. While the Baltiisky Yard is constructing the new generation nuclear-powered icebreakers, the Admiralty Yard and the Vyborg Yard produce diesel-engined vessels. Also the Yantar Yard in Kaliningrad has been involved in construction processes. In addition, the Russian-owned Arctech Yard in neighboring Finland is delivering icebreaking vessels for Russian stakeholders.

LK-60 (project 22220)
The biggest and most powerful of all the new vessels is under construction at the Baltiisky Yard. The nuclear-powered LK-60 icebreaker (project 22220) will be the world’s most powerful icebreaking vessel – 173 meters long, 34 meters wide and able to sail in 3-meter thick ice. It will be part of the state-owned Rosatomflot fleet of nuclear icebreakers based in Murmansk. Russia intends to build at least two of this class vessel, the first to be ready by the end of 2019, the other by the end of 2020.

LK-25 (project 22600)
The Baltiisky Yard is also constructing the world’s most powerful diesel-engined icebreaker. The LK-25 (project 22600) will be 146,8 meters long and have a deadweight of 22258 tons. It will have a crew of 38 and will be able to operate autonomously for 60 days in up to two meters thick ice. The vessel named “Viktor Chernomyrdin It is built for the Russian state company Rosmorport and was orginally to be completed by the end of 2015. However, delays have been reported from the yard.

Project 21180
Also the Russian Armed Forces and the oil industry are ordering icebreakers. The Admiralty Yard in St.Petersburg in late April this year started the construction of the first of four icebreakers of the 21180 project for the Ministry of Defence. The diesel-engined “Ilya Muromets” will be 84 meters long, 20 meters wide and will have a cruising capacity of 60 days. It is planned to be ready by 2017.

Icebreakers for Ob Bay
Gas company Novatek and its Yamal LNG project will need icebreaker assistance for its grand Sabetta port on the Yamal Peninsula coast. In April this year, Rosatom signed a contract with the Vyborg Yard on the construction of a 10 MW icebreaker which is accompany tankers to and from Sabetta. The deal is part of Rosatom’s bigger agreement with the Yamal LNG consortium.

Oil company Gazprom Neft has ordered a 22 MW icebreakers from the Vyborg Yard. The vessel, which is designed by the Finnish Aker Arctic Technology, will operate in the Ob Bay where the company is in the process of opening the Novy Port oil project.

Project 21900
Another three diesel-engined vessels of the project 21900 are under construction at the Vyborg Yard. One of them, the “Vladivostok”, is to be ready for handover to owner Rosmorport in the course of spring 2015, while another two, the “Murmansk” and the “Novorossiisk” are to be completed in the course of the year. Two other ships of the kind have already been constructed at the Baltic Yard in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The project 21900 project is developed for large-scale oil tanker assistance, as well as towing, transportation and rescue missions in icy waters.

Icebreaker R-70202
In the Russian-owned Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, an icebreaker of the type R-70202 is under construction. The “Murmansk” vessel was floated out of the yard dry dock in April this year and a second vessel of the type is in the process.

The Russian icebreaking development program comes at a price. The contract signed by Rosatom with the Baltiisky Yard in 2014 has a cost frame of 84.4 billion rubles (€1.45 billion). The LK-25 vessel is estimated to have a price tag of about 8 billion rubles (€140 million). It is not clear how much the Ministry of Defence will pay for their four icebreakers order from the Vyborg Yard.