The president of the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA), Matthew Paxton, gave a strong defence of his industry’s ability to build the next generation of Polar icebreakers for the US Coast Guard (USCG) during hearings on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Addressing the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Paxton affirmed that “at least 10 shipyards” are interested in building a new icebreaker. But he added that there needs to be “concise and fixed Coast Guard-validated requirements” and that the construction would take about seven-and-a-half years.
He trumpeted the experience and unmatched skill of the US shipbuilding workforce.
Earlier in the proceedings Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter had aimed a blistering broadside at the USCG for the long delays in deciding what to do about Polar icebreakers – in particular whether or not to reactivate the laid-up vessel Polar Sea to fill in after its sister ship Polar Star reaches the end of its useful life.
Representative Hunter, a Republican from San Diego County, California, and a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said time was ticking and the US faced the possibility of having a “hole” in its icebreaker capabilities.