Most national security experts agree that bolstering U.S. icebreaking capability is essential to best position the United States in the Arctic, but views vary on how the Coast Guard should do it. Some lawmakers and industry leaders advocate for leasing or a lease/own mix, while others promote designing and building a unique platform, purchasing already built vessels, or collaborating with other countries on design and construction.
Regardless of how a national icebreaking capability is achieved, the Coast Guard still needs to effectively address the operational factors of space and time to be positioned for success in the Arctic. Infrastructure—including deep-water ports, improved communications, and transportation hubs—will be essential to this equation moving forward. For the Coast Guard, the greatest near-term return on investment after icebreakers would be to shorten lines of operation and establish forward-operating bases.
Isolation and Bad Weather