If we are going to build icebreakers, first, it needs to be a highly successful program with truly excellent results. It only makes sense to hire Northern European and Russian experienced icebreaker experts to help us design and build the ships more quickly, more cost effectively, and with top notch results.
If we are going to build icebreakers, they need to be the biggest, most advanced, most reliable, and clearly the best in the world by a wide margin. We should build enough without pinching pennies, probably start with plans for six identical heavy icebreakers.
They should all be built in just one shipyard, which will become “The” specialist icebreaker construction and repair yard for the US. The steel should be made, cut, and rolled, at just one steel mill in one production run for all six vessels, plus one. When a plate forming machine is set up to roll a particular plate, it should roll the same plate for all six vessels, plus one spare, at the same time. And so on. The major machinery should be the same off the shelf Northern European equipment that has been proven in use by other recently icebreakers.
Personally, I wonder if the proposed 400’ icebreakers are too small with too much stuff for too many missions crammed into too small of a ship? Why not 600’ icebreakers? Also, I would prefer nuclear powered icebreakers that can operate for years between refueling. Not diesel ships, that spend most of their time looking for fuel. I don’t care if nuclear powered icebreakers using standard production submarine reactors cost twice as much.
If we cannot build a reasonable number of the biggest and best icebreakers in the world, we should not build any.