Coast Guard reactivated Polar Star
this year, but the future of Polar
Sea, which has been out of operation since 2010, has been in legislative limbo.
Lawmakers have been looking for
ways to fund the polar icebreaker —
which could cost upward of a $1 billion — for more than a year, but Sen.
Mary Landrieu, D-La., chairwoman
of the Senate Appropriations homeland security subcommittee, admitted earlier this year she’s unsure how
to make that possible.
“We are committed to finding a
way,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, during a subcommittee
hearing April 23.
The White House national strategy for the Arctic region, which was
released May 10, said as accessibility, along with recent scientific estimates indicating the presence of
significant energy and other resources, have inspired strong interest for new commercial initiatives in
the region, including energy production, increased shipping, scientific research, tourism and related
The administration’s plan is to
seek a collaborative and innovative
approach to managing the region.
“We must advance U.S. national
security interests, pursue responsible stewardship, and
strengthen international collaboration and cooperation, as
we work to meet the challenges of rapid climate-driven
environmental change,” the administration’s strategy says.
This is the first time the United States has handed
out a definitive plan for the Arctic region.
Washington belt-tightening — and smaller Coast
Guard budgets — could hamper the service’s long-term
plan. In its fiscal 2014 budget request, released April 10,
the service asked for $8 billion in discretionary spending,
a $600 million decline from fiscal 2013 funding.
“Fiscal constraints require thoughtful approaches for
advancing priorities in science, resource development,
environmental resilience and security,” said the strategy.
The service’s Arctic plan stresses the need for a collaborative and innovative approach to address governance, with coordination as a way to work around this
“The Coast Guard meets Arctic mission responsibilities through difficult trade-offs,” the plan said. ■
U.S. COAST GUARD
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak conducts the 13th hoist of 18 crewmen from the mobile drilling unit Kulluk 80 miles
southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, Dec. 29. The tug Aiviq had problems towing
the Kulluk, prompting the Coast Guard to deploy cutters and aircraft to evacuate the unit while Royal Dutch Shell dispatched additional tugs.
The concept of governance in the strategy involves
institutions, structures of authority and capabilities
necessary to oversee maritime activities while safe-
guarding national interests
“The Coast Guard will work within its authorities to
foster collective efforts, both domestically and interna-
tionally, to improve Arctic governance. In so doing, the
Coast Guard will review its own institutions and
regimes of governance to prepare for future missions
throughout the Arctic,” the document said.
The third objective, broadening partnerships, will
be done by developing and promoting the Coast Guard
as an expert and experienced resource for partners,
leveraging domestic and international partnerships as
force multipliers, and supporting a national approach
for Arctic planning.
Part of that national approach has been the push for
funding for another polar icebreaker in the fleet. The
Coast Guard has three polar icebreakers — Polar Star,
Polar Sea and Healy — but only Healy is active. The