The Trump administration’s budget proposal will include $150 million to start construction of a new U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker. Currently, only two icebreakers are in service, and both are based in Seattle.
The Trump administration’s budget request to Congress will include $150 million for a new Coast Guard icebreaker, according to U.S. Senate testimony this week by Adm. Paul Zukunft.
Zukunft, responding to questions from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said, “We can accelerate the timeline … and ideally award a contract to start cutting steel in the next year.”
The money is proposed for fiscal year 2018, which begins in October this year.
Total cost of the new icebreaker is projected to be $1 billion, and it would take years to complete construction.
The Department of Homeland Security in 2013 called for a fleet of six Coast Guard icebreakers. Currently, only two icebreakers are operational, and they’re based in Seattle.
Cantwell has been pressing for funding of a new icebreaker for years in an era when climate change is opening up the Arctic waters to more maritime traffic. She had been concerned that funding for the icebreaker might be dropped from the Trump administration’s budget proposal.
Bryan Watt, a Cantwell spokesman, said the funding will be included in the proposed budget for the Navy, which will be involved with the contract for the vessel.
Overall, Trump’s proposed Coast Guard budget for fiscal year 2018 is expected to be at roughly the same level as the current year, according to Watt.