US ice breaker plans stalling

Lack of money from what little i read , gee, just think what that 80 billion or so wasted in Ukraine could do?!!


The total procurement costs for the first three vessels will total around $5.1 billion the CBO calculates, 60 percent higher than even the most recent estimate provided by the Coast Guard just two months ago.

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I’d be cheaper to have the Japanese build it. Their version of an Arleigh Burke DDG comes in under budget & on time. Or let the Norwegians build it. Bug would like that!! LOL

I would suggest Finland as a good place to get both the design and building done.
They have knowhow going back decades, as well as up to date experience.
Tupsis can tell you all about it, if he feels like.

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Wasted? U need to stop watching Russia Today. Russkis call people like you “useful idiots” for reason.


Avondale did a technology transfer agreement with the Finnish shipbuilding company Masa-Yards for the design and construction of USCGC Healy in the 1990s. Something like that could work with another US-based shipyard today. Does Philly have slots available? NASSCO? HII?

edit: …and something not entirely unlike that was also done with USCGC Mackinaw.

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An ice breaker built out of artillery shells would be something :roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes:.

The American military industrial complex makes the world go round, I’d rather throw money at the Russian invaders over my fellow Americans, something most of the old farts here no longer have to worry about being of retirement age.

Allowing the American shipyards to have a monopoly is the real problem.

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if it wasn’t for the CIA sponsored coup installing zelinsky there wouldn’t be a war, neither if the us hadn’t ‘encouraged’ England to NOT go to the negotiation table, Most of that money ends up back in politicians pockets, buying yachts for Ukraine military for retirement when they lose or at Boeing and Teledyne etc.

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How does a fixed-price contract for three ships for $1.9B balloon to $5+B…am I mistaken in my understanding of the term Fixed-price?

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Perhaps Bath Iron Works would be a good choice. They exclusively build US Navy ships.

Like the $320 million “pier”. If a civilian was building it, it would probably cost about half that amount. Maybe just forget a heavy icebreaker, by the time one FINALLY gets built, it will be too late for it to be of any use. Going to be interesting getting supplies to McMurdo by airplane. WHY can’t it be as simple as “we need an icebreaker, so build one.” TWELVE years from “build it” to “here it is”? At present. And wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t run on till 2030. “To infinity and beyond.”

Vis a vie the news article about starting construction of the Polar cutter BEFORE FINALIZING THE DESIGN:

I can visualize it now, half way through construction, someone says: “HOLY SHIT! This won’t fit. We’ll have to cut the hull & add a foot.”

The LCS program is a bust. The Connie FFG program is equally fucked. And the Ford class CVN was built with unproven tech. And with sea-going drone tech as demonstrated by the Ukrainians sinking Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, it’s likely CVN’s are now HUGE TARGETS via drone-swarms.

I’ve given up on my American decision makers.


Record of the hearing is available in YouTube:

In addition to gCaptain, few other media outlets have also provided summaries:

While I knew the Polar Security Cutter is based on the yet-unrealized Polarstern II project, I didn’t know that the Coast Guard had suggested a Finnish icebreaker as an “inspiration model”. I presume that’s the 2016-built Polaris.

If the PSC project was reset today, I bet everyone would be using the French cruise ship as the parent design instead.

The whole “parent design” approach is ridiculous anyway given that no-one has built a 21st century USCG heavy polar icebreaker before. By the way, there was no parent design for Le Commandant Charcot either…


The designers:

The builder:

Review: (In Norwegian)

Trip to the North Pole:

Maybe just build another “Polar class” with 21st Century equipment? Already have blueprints for the hull. Just update the “guts” of the ship. The hull design for the Polar class was based off tests we performed off the coast of Alaska during Arctic Summer West 70. If the Polar class worked, why not do it again?


I cannot believe that the Polar class icebreaker in Seattle cannot be rebuilt.

The hull is old but very thick. It’s not rusting away. It could be completely stripped bare and have a standard submarine nuclear power plant installed, along with new everything else.

I don’t trust the USCG or the experts that say it’s not practical to rebuild that ship. It’s not practical only because they don’t want to.

A team should be assembled to go visit and hopefully break ice on all the major allied ice breakers. Then figure out which of those ships would best suit our needs, and try to buy them.

If they cannot be bought, then build them to exactly the same plans in the same foreign yards. Have teaching US shipyard workers how to build ice breakers be part of the contract.

I don’t care what other special requirements the know nothings at USCG would prefer. The USCG needs to learn some humility and be grateful for what US taxpayers are willing to provide.

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Polar Sea has been out of service as of 2010due to failure of five of her six Alco main diesel engines.“

That’s from Wikipedia. I don’t understand why those engines can’t be pulled out and replaced with EMDs or some big Cats.

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Because the USCG would prefer to use this simple problem that any good tugboat company could solve in a cost effective manner, as an excuse to get a new ship.

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those new russian breakers we followed north seemed to be ok tho I of course never got to go everywhere, You’d need a flashlight for the lack of 25 watt lighting! they’ll build them for el-cheapo for us i’d bet?
no cat power plz … !!!
and tugsailor: I never saw a hull get a “2nd life” rebuild. It was always just fix the usual stuff and put it to sea “away from here”.
and seriously, maybe a breaker will have to spend a extra winter up (or down) there. I’ve never seen the stores on a breaker but can you imagine taking on anything other than diesel
to get thru another 3 months?
And there’s plenty more issues, the point is, one doesn’t change a basic design much, it evolves over time … like mandating electric cars and ships for everyone before the technology exists to be viable !!

Russia’s newest non-nuclear-powered icebreaker, the 22,000-tonne Viktor Chernomyrdin, was commissioned in November 2020. By then, it was about five years behind schedule and 83 % over its original budget. The ship’s construction was suspended when it was found to be 2,500 tonnes overweight and required extensive redesign. After resuming construction, Russia was hit by financial crisis and international sanctions, and the nearly-completed ship by a fire that injured two workers and postponed the sea trials by almost a year. The vessel was named after a person who’s best-known saying was we wanted the best, but it turned out as always.

As for the post-Soviet nuclear-powered icebreakers, Arktika was commissioned in October 2020, less than three years behind its contractual delivery date primarily due to Ukrainian and western companies canceling contracts for key equipment such as steam turbogenerators and the ship’s integrated electric propulsion system. They also had a weight issue that increased the draught of the icebreaker designed to operate in shallow river estuaries by two feet. The starboard propulsion motor also failed during sea trials and the only way to replace it was to cut the hull open in a dry dock. Sounds familiar? USCGC Healy had a similar incident in the same year. However, while the USCG had stocked a 20-year-old spare motor, the Russians had to pull one from the assembly line which delayed the ships then under construction.

The construction of the sister ships — two of which have been delivered so far — has admittedly gone slightly better. There have also been some successes in import substitution although the replacement products are nowhere near as good as the western tech. The only exception is the nuclear technology which I have to admit is pretty damn impressive, but a lot more goes into those ships than just two glorified water boilers.

The Russians are also building a much bigger super-icebreaker dubbed “Leader” which is reportedly 40–60 % over budget and unlikely to meet its planned 2027 delivery date. Whereas the other nuclear-powered icebreakers are being built by the shipyard that delivered their predecessors, this behemoth is under construction at a shipyard that has so far only delivered oil tankers that were assembled from large blocks brought from South Korea. Shoigu bombing the Ukrainian foundry that was contracted to deliver all the major hull castings probably didn’t exactly accelerate the project either. “Comrade Vladimir Vladimirovich, I have some good news and some bad news. The accuracy of our missiles has improved, but…” They ended up cancelling the second and third vessels in favor of building more Arktika-class icebreakers.

I wrote this post earlier but deleted it because it was slightly off-topic. However, I think it is now warranted given someone brought up the Russian shipbuilding industry. Their crown jewel, Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex, literally took one in the face and another in the arse when they lost access to western technology and partners. All of their projects are running years behind schedule and it is unlikely they can finish the ships their Arctic LNG projects direly need anytime soon. Well, what can you expect when you advertise ships “made in Russia” even though five sixths come fully-outfitted from Samsung…

The Russians are now scrapping a 70s-era polar icebreaker to get spares for its two sister ships, and considering re-engining some late-70s and early-80s ships by the end of this decade to increase their service life by 15 years. Half of the fleet was built in the Soviet times, no new icebreakers were delivered to Russia between 1992 and 2005, and more than half of the icebreaking ships built since were built to serve the oil and gas industry. While they are building new nuclear-powered icebreakers even as we speak, three existing vessels will exhaust their reactor plants in the coming years, stalling the growth fo the fleet that has just recently reached Soviet-era numbers.

One thing that both the Soviet Union and later Russia did right was to be open to new ideas. While there were a handful of evolutionary dead-ends — just like in other countries — not requiring everything to be always of “well-proven design” actually pushed the state of the art forwards for everyone. Having seen some of that first-hand in my early career, I find all this discussion about re-engining a 50-year-old icebreaker or building new ships to decades-old plans somewhat amusing. And actually a bit sad.

I know highlighting your adversary’s challenges doesn’t make your own problems any more acceptable, but I guess I just didn’t waste a good rant.

Anyway, a fast-track development to close the icebreaker gap could start from the ship we have already mentioned earlier: