USCG Ice breakers


Oh boy, things may get out of hand if they’re not careful.


It’s interesting how arming the new icebreakers with long-range cruise missiles would result in only “limited” counterbalance against those two icebreaking patrol vessels Russia is currently building. I mean, it’s not like they’re building a whole fleet of them like Canada does…

The article also failed to mention Aiviq as an American-flagged icebreaker. It’s roughly equivalent to Polar Class 3.


Not everybody is interested in making the Arctic into another pissing match between the US and Russia:


The fuel costs themselves, no hangar, 600 ton winches, and a wet deck aft. Plus training up the engineers, changing up the berthing, ripping out the DP system and strengthening the hull make this a lose/lose for the USCG. However, if the political pressure is strong enough, who knows.

Personally, I think the AIVIQ will remain a giant polished turd wasting away wherever she is…


My point was, if they say Russia has 40 icebreakers, they should also count Aiviq in the US fleet. True, it’s not a very good ship, but an icebreaker nonetheless.


I wouldn’t but who knows with those morons, I mean our Leaders in DC.


Don’t get me wrong - I’m not proposing that the USCG should acquire Aiviq to bridge the icebreaker gap. However, I’m just fed up seeing all those “Russia has 40 heavy polar icebreakers and we have just one from the 1970s 'cos Healy ain’t one” style headlines in the American media. At the moment, Russia has exactly seven icebreakers in service that are bigger and more powerful than Healy, and three of those are from the 1970s.


Chapter 49


Here’s a recent model testing video from Canada:

The U.S. and Canadian governments on Feb. 7 established a partnership that will enable the U.S. Coast Guard heavy polar icebreaker acquisition program to test and validate potential heavy polar icebreaker design models at Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) in St. John’s, Newfoundland.


The French takes delivery of a new icebreaking patrol vessel:




Translation: They can get their foot in the door at 1 billion and then run into “cost overruns” so they can pad their profit margins.


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.


That’s the American spirit that appears to have been missing from the Maritime scene for years.
For too many years the notion that “cheap is good”, especially if it is made in America, has governed the business for too many years. As has trying to convert old sh*t to fit modern needs.

Mass producing large icebreakers may be difficult, but remember Kennedy’s words.
Getting help in design from those who have experience and knowledge and equipment from manufacturers that have made the same for others, instead of making expensive mistakes just for national pride, sounds like a good idea. (What is the chances that it will be shot down by others here??)


Now boys…

Consider the source and move on. I prefer to put my “criticisms” between the lines, that way I have plausible deniability and if anybody says anything I can feign ignorance and that the offended party is paranoid.

As administrator on the OMAMA page I do not put up with any political or personal issues or as I classify them, “fourth grade playground rivalries”… Business is business.


While I agree with your other points, my personal opinion is that a well-designed icebreaker should be no bigger than what is required to fulfil its mission. There’s no real advantage in having the biggest icebreaking ship just for one-upping the Russians.


I didn’t take that as one-upping, it’s just that an ice breaker needs to be big to have the best range and ice breaking abilities. Don’t try to scrimp and save by cutting the size down because that will cut it’s capabilities as well.


One upping the Russians is symbolically very important to the financing of US icebreakers.

Most of the rational for building icebreakers is to “project or protect US sovereignty in the Arctic.” The truth is that US has no good reason to break Arctic ice where the US has no significant population, industry, or trade routes, but has a plethora of environmental obstacles and vocal opposition to doing anything anywhere near the Arctic. Even fishing is prohibited in the US Arctic. Icebreakers contribute virtually nothing to actual national security.

The US has no reason to break Arctic ice to help foreign ships take a short cut between China and Europe.

The only reasons to build US icebreakers are to: support scientific research; project sovereignty, train for ice operations, and to prepare for the possible opening of future foreign trade routes close to US shores in the Arctic which may be brought about by climate change, and to prepare for the possibility that future natural resource extraction that might someday become feasible, if allowed, in the US Arctic. And of course, to one up the Russians.

If it’s going to be a non-nuclear icebreaker it will need a lot of fuel capacity. There is no US port in which to fuel an icebreaker north of Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands at 53*- 54’N.

In order to fund the construction of a fleet of US icebreakers they must become “Christmas Trees” that can be loaded up with “ornaments” produced in, or “benefitting”, or at least providing corporate welfare in, as many different Congressional districts as possible. There will be enormous pressure to build parts of the icebreakers in many states and assemble them in several different shipyards. The icebreakers will have to be big enough to include products designed or manufactured in at least 25 different states, and support the research desires of universities from all 50 states. The US military will have a huge list of “must haves.” In other words, it may be possible to fund six super heavy icebreakers with room for lots of “missions” for $9 billion, when it would not be possible to find the money to build six smaller heavy ice breakers for $5 billion.


We won’t “one up” the Russians. They have four nuclear icebreakers and a lot more territory to cover. We just need to protect our interests.

Thanks for the correction Tupsis. I give credit where it is due, especially when I am starting a rant.