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US Navy urged to show greater support for Arctic-related investments

The US Navy is the contracting agent for the US Coast Guard's Polar Security Cutter. (VT Halter/Marine Technology Associates)

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski asked US naval officials to show “robust” support for platforms and facilities for Arctic-related operations on 16 April during a Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) hearing.

In particular, Murkowski asked for greater support for the US Coast Guard's (USCG's) Polar Security Cutter (PSC) programme and the effort to create a naval port facility in Nome, Alaska.

“I've been trying to get [the] coastguard going with the Polar Security Cutter and I've been frustrated on many levels,” she said, noting the US Navy (USN) is the official contract agent for the joint programme.

She said she wanted USN commitment that it is backing the programme.

“It doesn't help that in the president's [Fiscal Year 2025] budget [request] there's no money for the Polar Security Cutter,” she said. “I'm nervous.”

The country needs “assets that will break the ice. We can't hope subs will poke a hole through that a ship will able to move through. That's not how it works”, Murkowski said.

She wanted to make sure the navy's role as contracting agent was “really robust and engaged”.

Responding to Murkowski's issues during the hearing, Admiral Lisa Franchetti, the chief of naval operations (CNO), said, “I talked to our folks. They are fully committed. We are focused on it.”

Murkowski pushed on, noting that when it comes to the Arctic, the US needs to “keep leaning in”, noting that more needed to be done to build up the Alaskan port of Nome.

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