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US Senator Murkowski cites need for faster icebreaker acquisition and improved Arctic communications

US Coast Guard icebreaker Healy calls in Seward, Alaska, in July 2022, while embarking on a North Pole deployment. US Senator Lisa Murkowski wants to accelerate the acquisition of additional icebreakers. (Michael Fabey)

Citing growing national security concerns in the Arctic, US Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska called for speedier acquisition of the proposed fleet of Polar Security Cutters (PSCs) and improvement of infrastructure for Arctic communications.

With their icebreaker capability, the PSCs will augment the icebreaking operations of the US Coast Guard (USCG), which generally deploys one icebreaker to the Arctic, cutter USCGC Healy (WAGB-20).

β€œOne icebreaker does not a fleet make,” Murkowski said during the Polar Institute's public release of the United States Arctic Research Commission's (USARC's) Report on the Goals and Objectives for Arctic Research 2023–2024 on 15 February.

β€œWe're still moving far too slow in my view with Polar Security Cutters,” Murkowski said. β€œWe had a window where we thought we would have a chance to use a commercial icebreaker to bridge the gap – from where we are right now and until we see the actual Polar Security Cutter come on line.”

Having missed that opportunity, the country needs to move more quickly to acquire the PSCs, and also improve communications infrastructure in the Arctic, Murkowski said.

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