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Bill allowing icebreakers critical to U.S. Arctic operations passes congress

Murkowski applauds new bill
USCGC POLAR STAR
USCGC POLAR STAR(AK Navy League)
Published: Dec. 13, 2020 at 3:56 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Congress has passed a bill authorizing additional Coast Guard Polar Security Cutters. The Coast Gard Reauthorization Act passed congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan released a statement saying the highways of the Arctic are paved by icebreakers. He says the authorization of the new icebreakers will put America in a much better position to operate in the region.

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) all co-authored the bill.

“I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, from all corners of the country, for recognizing the importance of the Arctic, and for supporting the vessels and infrastructure that are needed to realize America’s role as an Arctic nation,” said Senator Sullivan.

The U.S. currently has only two polar icebreakers, according to a release sent out by the office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski. However, due to a fire this past summer only one is currently in operation.

“I’m proud of the progress that we have made to help the U.S. strengthen its capacity and presence in the Arctic as other Arctic and non-Arctic nations expand theirs,” said Senator Murkowski.

Russia has 53 icebreakers and Canada has seven, according to recent Coast Guard data.

“The reality is, there is a race on for the Arctic passageway, and we need to be ready,” said Senator Cantwell.

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