Coast Guard to Release RFP for New Icebreaker
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
WASHINGTON — In his 2018 State of the Coast Guard speech, the Coast Guard commandant announced that the Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new heavy icebreaker would be issued March 2.
Speaking March 1 at the National Press Club, Adm. Paul F. Zukunft said the new icebreaker would be the “first installment to recapitalize our nation’s fleet of icebreakers.
During a press conference following the speech, Zukunft said the 1,750-page RFP would be released to five potential vendors. The Coast Guard spent $25 million among the vendors for them to study icebreaker requirements.
The Coast Guard has a requirement for three polar heavy icebreakers and three medium icebreakers. It currently operates only one, the Polar Star, that is four decades old. The Coast Guard is looking at a block buy, he said.
“We need the first one in the water by 2023,” the commandant said. “The funding is there to match.”
Zukunft said the cost of the first new icebreaker is expected to come in under $1 billion.
He said the Coast Guard also needed to weaponize the icebreaker, noting that Navy submarines currently are the only armed vessels that operate in the Arctic region, and that the integrated program office with the Navy is working that aspect. He also said the icebreaker would operate not only unmanned aerial vehicles but unmanned underwater vehicles.