The Coast Guard is eager to design and build the first of six new icebreakers ahead of the previously proposed schedule. The Polar Star is the sole Coast Guard heavy icebreaker still in operation. It was commissioned in 1976 and is now frequently down for repairs.
Suppliers of government and DoD military contract equipment must adhere to (GSA) processes and demonstrate they can produce top quality products efficiently and quickly. There are currently five companies vying for the contract, but bids remain open to anyone capable of completing the project. Rear Admiral Michael Haycock announced in April of 2018 that the Coast Guard hopes to take delivery of the first new icebreaker by the end of 2023.
“It’s a little bit like a marriage”
According to Military.com, the initial plan had a delivery date of 2028. The rough condition of the Polar Star necessitated the delivery date be pushed up to 2023. The Polar Star crew had to contend with numerous breakdowns during the most recent season at sea. Problems ranged from a flooded engine room to a failure of one of the three main gas turbines.
Haycock said he knows it’s going to be a challenge for designers and builders to meet the updated timeline. He compared the situation between the Coast Guard and contractors to a marriage saying, “If you’re equally unhappy, you know you probably got it right.”
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