The Impact of our aging icebreaker fleet

Interesting story from the Seattle Times concerning the impact of the aging, nearly nonexistent, U.S. icebreaker fleet and the future of the Arctic.

by Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times science reporter

When Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen imagines a melting Arctic, it’s not a pretty sight: Cruise ships collide with icebergs. Oil tankers and ore ships run aground. Foreign fishermen sneak into American waters. Even worse, the nation’s top Coast Guard officer fears he may not have the tools to respond to these future crises.

At a time when Russia, Canada, Norway and other Arctic nations are scrambling to stake out turf in the still-frozen north, the United States’ two most powerful icebreakers sit at a dock in Seattle, nearing the end of their working lives.

One is manned by a skeleton crew. Both are about 30 years old, and nothing is on the drawing board to replace them.

“We have the responsibility for maritime safety, stewardship and security,” Allen said. “But how do you respond up there if you have no presence?”

More at the Seattle Times.

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