• Ocean-going countries are showing new interest in operating in the Arctic and Antarctic, as receding ice makes waters there more accessible.
  • Icebreaking ships are vital for operations in those regions, but the US has fewer such ships than its neighbors in the area, including Russia.
  • The US is pushing to build more icebreakers, but the threat of militarization has added wrinkles to those plans.

Receding ice in the Arctic and Antarctic has drawn the attention of the world’s ocean-going powers, and the US military, led by the Coast Guard, has been pushing for more resources¬†to catch up to other countries¬†operating in those regions.

The Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet is the backbone of its operations around the North and South Poles, but that fleet is comparatively small. Of the three it has, only two are operational: the heavy icebreaker Polar Star and medium icebreaker Healy, which mainly does scientific work.

 

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Featured image courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard