Military Review

Trump ordered the construction of new icebreakers by 2029. But the old will die sooner


US Coast Guard Medium Diesel Electric Icebreaker Healey

US President D. Trump ordered a review of the requirements for his country's icebreaking capabilities in the Arctic and Antarctic, in particular, he wants new icebreakers for the US Coast Guard (in the US, the icebreakers belong to her and are listed as patrol ships, more precisely, “boats”) put into operation by 2029. This is stated in a memorandum published the other day.

Trump Memorandum

This document was sent to the US Department of Defense, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and several other departments, in particular, to the Office of Budget Affairs. Most of the document consists of instructions on work already begun. For example, on research and development of projects for three heavy icebreakers, with which it is planned to replace the current one half-dead Polar Star icebreaker and one dead (used as a warehouse for spare parts for the first) Polar Sea heavy icebreaker, as well as the medium icebreaker (more precisely, icebreaking transport) Healy. It also says that for other planned ships (there were plans for three medium-sized icebreakers), for which no contracts were concluded, it was necessary to conduct a review in order to understand whether they were needed at all and which ones, or whether the issue could be solved in some other way.

The memorandum calls for "an assessment of enhanced operational capabilities, taking into account the estimated associated costs, for both heavy and medium-sized U.S. military command and control vessels, which have not yet been contracted, in particular, including the maximum use of any such ship in relation to its ability to support national security goals. ” This revaluation should be done after 60 days. The Trump directive on evaluating the current plan for building Arctic marine capacity over the next decade is a sign that the administration is increasingly concerned about the activities of Russia and China in the northern region (or uses this as an excuse to knock out money for icebreakers). You see, this activity “could threaten America’s interests at critical points,” such as the Greenland-Faroe-Icelandic border. True, there is no explanation in the document about how this is how nuclear and diesel-electric heavy-class icebreakers in Russia can affect this very, at present, practically “virtual” anti-submarine line, if they themselves do not leave the Arctic, and to our submarines their services are needed like scuba fish. To leave the base, a regular port icebreaker is enough, and then the boats simply plunge.

In April 2019, U.S. BODC announced that it had signed a $ 746 million contract with VT Halter Marine from Pascagula, Mississippi, for the detailed design and initial construction of its first heavy icebreaker. And on the draft budget for fiscal year 2021, now, before preliminary discussions by its Congress, the Coast Guard states that it can finance a second icebreaker. But the memorandum calls for a review of what the appropriate combination of vessels should be for the Arctic fleet: It is anticipated that some changes may be made to the plans for the middle three icebreaking vessels.

The memorandum contains a request to consider the needs in the Arctic, covering the whole range of tasks to ensure national and economic security (including facilitating the exploration and exploitation of resources and the laying and maintenance of submarine cables) that can be performed by the medium-class icebreakers, as well as an analysis of how these use cases differ with respect to the intended use of heavy RBF icebreakers for the same activities.

“These use cases will allow us to determine the optimal number and type of polar coast guard icebreakers to ensure a permanent presence both in the Arctic and, accordingly, in the Antarctic regions,”

- said in the memorandum.

Simply put, it is proposed to think about whether it is possible to do without these three medium-sized icebreakers by reducing their number to zero or some other size or otherwise solving this problem. Probably, no extra funds are expected, and, despite the powerful shipbuilding industry, few people can build icebreakers in America at least somehow, so the capacity is limited in this matter.

The issue of nuclear powered ships is still purely theoretical

It is proposed to think whether it is possible to build heavy icebreakers with a nuclear power plant or not. But the design of a new icebreaker is already being funded, and the issue of the type of power plant should have been resolved right away! But in general, the United States is not inclined to use atomic energy for icebreakers, although this document says that only currently operated by Russia (and generally always), these vessels provide a long and little limited presence in polar waters. But, despite the experience of atomic surface and especially underwater shipbuilding in the United States, there is no experience building exactly atomic icebreakers, the difference between an aircraft carrier and an icebreaker with a nuclear power plant is great, and even a power plant from one may not work for the other.

Basically. in the world, two countries built atomic icebreakers in general, and one of them built according to the project and under the supervision of the other, and without nuclear power plants and much on board. This is Finland. But it is unlikely that the Finns will be able to greatly help the Americans in this matter: they do not fully possess the working design documentation for the Taimyr and Vaigach icebreakers, and the people who built them have long since quit or have already died. More than 30 years have passed.

How to live after 2023?

The memorandum also calls for a study to identify two locations in the United States for their ice fleet, as well as two international facilities that, say, can be rented for these purposes (apparently in the Canadian Arctic).

Trump ordered the construction of new icebreakers by 2029. But the old will die sooner

The Polar Star heavy gas turbine icebreaker is still alive, but not for long

In addition, given that the Coast Guard has the only operating heavy icebreaker Polar Star, which is 44 years old, the memorandum calls on agencies to identify potential vessels in different countries that could be leased as an interim measure. The fact is that Polar Star now lives in the "race to the Antarctic for the next expedition - arming for repairs to prepare for a new trip there." It is gas turbine and powerful enough for a non-nuclear, but very voracious and even capricious in youth. It is believed that by 2023 he will "die" completely, he will have to be written off. The medium-sized diesel-electric icebreaker (essentially an ice-class research vessel with very modest capabilities) Healy will live longer until the end of the decade (although it was put into operation recently, in 1999). But an icebreaker is still needed, so the option of leasing someone with a sufficiently powerful vessel or a pair of vessels is being considered while new icebreakers are being built. Or temporary rent will turn into a permanent one. The only question is: where to get such icebreakers for rent?

Finns are ready to build, Americans are not ready to buy, although they would like to

Icebreaking fleets in Sweden, Finland and Canada are modest enough, and there are few or no Arctic vessels of medium or heavy class. The Finns could build a non-nuclear icebreaker or a series - yes, they have a lot of experience, during the USSR non-nuclear icebreakers were ordered from the Finns very actively. But the Finns have nothing to rent out - they have 7 medium and light ships, of which 3 are either of the same age as the Polar Star, or older than it, and all of them, except Nordica and Fennica, built in the first half of the 90s, are designed to work in the Baltic . Although, of course, one of these may be leased, moreover, the Finns have long tried to either sell or lease an icebreaker in the USA or to obtain an order for construction. The possibility of renting could become a springboard for Finnish shipbuilding in an attempt to break into the American market.

But there may be problems with the Jones Act, which is already 100 years old and signed by Woodrow Wilson after the First World War. The law aims to ensure the stability of the US marine industry by supporting the "domestic producer." His goal was to help US shipping recover from World War I. Jones law requires that all ships carrying goods between two points of the United States, were built by the Americans, belonged to them, had crews and US flags. And, although 97% of US foreign shipments are carried out on ships not necessarily made there, this item is strictly enforced. Despite the lobby advocating for the repeal of the Jones Act, no one will cancel it now due to the US economic crisis, otherwise it will only increase problems in the industry right away.

Where else to get icebreakers? Go through the bazaar - ask the price!

Canadians have 6 ships, but they are also very old and mostly light class, and we need such a cow ourselves, yet Canada has a large Arctic sector, and the Northeast Passage is not similar to our Northern Sea Route in terms of the severity of the ice situation, it’s often under construction we have a superheavy "Leader" LK-120 and will pass. Of course, to the detriment of himself, if the American owner orders, maybe they will lease it. So saying, giving his wife to his uncle.

The Swedes have 6 icebreakers, 3 of which are also of the Polar Star age, the most powerful, the medium-sized icebreaker that can operate outside the Baltic - exactly one, Oden, and there are 2 more light classes that are also capable of this (but the Americans do not need them). Although the United States rented icebreakers from Sweden and Russia in 2012, when the Polar Star was stuck in the next repair, and the icebreaker was needed for the rotation of the expedition in the Antarctic. Then, in particular, our Krasin was involved in this task.

Maybe the Americans in Russia should rent one of its fifty icebreakers? We probably would have gone towards the "partners" and probably could have built them, and we would not have been afraid of the "loss of influence" after the appearance of one or several icebreakers in the USA. But the Americans themselves won’t do it now, because it’s clear to every last Democrat and Republican in the Capitol that the “Russian racists” will immediately “interfere in the elections” through the construction of the icebreaker and elect Putin as president. All other “icebreaking” owner countries either have 1-2 vessels of light power class that can operate in uncomplicated (by the standards of the Arctic and Antarctic) ice conditions and do research. Or they have purely Baltic icebreakers, like Denmark with its 4 ice-breaking tug boats of light power class like “Viking” (the same “Vikings” have 2 Swedes who built them, and even we had 1 of them at one time, now he is flying the Canadian flag).
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. Mavrikiy
    Mavrikiy 20 June 2020 05: 47
    But the Finns are unlikely to be able to greatly help the Americans in this matter: they do not have full working design documentation for the Taimyr and Vaigach icebreakers, and the people who built them have long since quit or have already died. More than 30 years have passed.
    Are you hinting at an analogy with "Antonov"? repeat
    1. Cowbra
      Cowbra 20 June 2020 06: 20
      With Westinghouse
      1. Incompetent
        Incompetent 20 June 2020 20: 20
        With "Westinghouse brakes")))
        1. Cowbra
          Cowbra 20 June 2020 20: 24
          Why brakes. They gave the US government a contract for a nuclear power plant, then China for 4 nuclear power plants, went bankrupt and merged. A nuclear power plant was built despite the fact that for nuclear power plants they knew how to produce only fuel and software, the nuclear power plants themselves have never been built, and in general, the last American unit was built over exactly 30 years ago. The brakes are there for those who vote for the government, which is cutting the budget with such offices "Horns and Hooves"
          1. Bashkirkhan
            Bashkirkhan 20 June 2020 23: 13
            After the accident at Three Mile Island, the Americans killed the entire industry, as a result of which an attempt to build new AR-1000 reactors led to a fiasco. During the construction process, Westinghouse suddenly found out that it no longer had suppliers of equipment for nuclear power plants and went bankrupt; an attempt to resume production of the main components of nuclear power plants in the United States failed completely, as domestic suppliers could not provide the required quality. The main reason is the leak of competencies in heavy engineering to Asia and the complete loss of heavy engineering, as well as a mess in the production of nuclear fuel: they could not master the centrifuge uranium enrichment technology, and their archaic diffusion plants cannot provide the current number of reactors with fuel either volumes, nor in economics. Where else should they build reactors, if the current ones are critically dependent on the supply of enriched uranium from Russia? Given that China is engaged in low-power reactors, Rosatom simply has no competitors in the world.
            1. Alexey RA
              Alexey RA 21 June 2020 12: 54
              Quote: Bashkirkhan
              During construction, Westinghouse suddenly found out that it no longer had suppliers of equipment for nuclear power plants.

              "On the way of our radio channel, SUDDENLY built a house"
              1. Cowbra
                Cowbra 21 June 2020 20: 37
                By the way, I don’t see anything funny, I myself came across - for 6 months in a wasteland they put a 16-story building in a wasteland ... The radio channel died
          2. Yarhann
            Yarhann 21 June 2020 19: 51
            Something this epic with the development of the Arctic by the Americans reminds me of motivating the public for another grand dough drank by industrialists and financiers)))
            Trump is great, and indeed the top of the SGA constantly come up with more and more croilov’s schemes, you’ll look and shoot - like the NASA space exploration project shot at one time, but then you really didn't have to work hard with motivation - you just had to inject the population that should be ahead of the USSR and this is enough, but there even though the grass does not grow)
  2. Ragnar Lodbrok
    Ragnar Lodbrok 20 June 2020 05: 47
    They were late. Our Arctic, before it was necessary to move, now go to the forest.
    1. mark1
      mark1 20 June 2020 06: 04
      The Arctic is large and not only with us, sooner or later (fast enough) they will gain experience and competencies (a developed country), master their part and begin to bother us
      The Chinese are building and these will cope.
      1. Mavrikiy
        Mavrikiy 20 June 2020 06: 22
        Quote: mark1
        The Chinese are building and these will cope.

        The Chinese, perhaps we are helping. And this, we definitely will not.
      2. nPuBaTuP
        nPuBaTuP 22 June 2020 07: 26
        The Chinese are building

        The Chinese are likely to build for the Antarctic .... Too much they began to show activity there recently ...
        1. mark1
          mark1 22 June 2020 08: 40
          Quote: nPuBaTuP
          The Chinese are most likely building for Antarctica.

          Even so, let’s say, but they themselves build, they don’t buy. The Americans have built the Polar Sea Polar Star themselves (gas turbines! Completely of their own American type) and will build the nuclear ones, the second, third series will be no worse than ours. The pioneering enthusiasm of some commentators (not on your account) suggests that these people either have not yet come out of their "tender" age or are rapidly returning back.
          1. nPuBaTuP
            nPuBaTuP 22 June 2020 13: 58
            and the atomic ones will be built, the second, third series will be no worse than ours.

            And here I am ready to argue with you .... they will not pull the icebreaker fleet ... even approximately like ours ....
            Because they don’t have any interested people in this .... and our state is interested .... here it’s building .... The fact that they want something doesn’t mean what they will do .....
  3. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 20 June 2020 06: 34
    From the article, one can make a conclusion that is not entirely pleasant for the Americans - wanting it does not mean being able to. And in this matter (icebreakers, exploration of the Arctic), Americans lag behind Russia by a lot.
    1. Evdokim
      Evdokim 20 June 2020 07: 14
      Quote: rotmistr60
      From the article, we can draw a conclusion not entirely pleasant for Americans

      Yeah For them, wherever you throw - everywhere a wedge. There is money, no time. I want to buy, and Nizya. To lease from China, not comme il faut to China to lease. laughing tongue
      1. timokhin-aa
        timokhin-aa 21 June 2020 21: 04
        Calm down, the construction contract has already been signed, money has been allocated, bookmark in the first serial in 2021, commissioning in 2024.
        The second, possibly next year, will sign a contract.
    2. raw174
      raw174 20 June 2020 10: 29
      Quote: rotmistr60
      From the article, one can make a conclusion that is not entirely pleasant for the Americans - wanting it does not mean being able to. And in this matter (icebreakers, exploration of the Arctic), Americans lag behind Russia by a lot.

      They also talked about space, but the trampoline started working ... The Americans will build icebreakers and faster than we are "Leader". Say what you don't, but money and influence in the world decide.
      1. timokhin-aa
        timokhin-aa 21 June 2020 21: 03
        The planned delivery of the first heavy icebreaker under the PCS program is 2024.
        The ship is already under construction, but our turbopatriots cannot wake up in any way.
  4. parusnik
    parusnik 20 June 2020 07: 25
    "I have the desire to buy a house, but I have no opportunity. I have the opportunity to buy a goat, but ... I have no desire." (from) smile
  5. knn54
    knn54 20 June 2020 07: 52
    As Marcus Aurelius used to say "Fais ce que dois, advienne, que pourra".
  6. Free wind
    Free wind 20 June 2020 07: 56
    What a patriotic cheer, for the utin article. What Americans are stupid. Just tell me, what did the Chinese forget there?
    1. donavi49
      donavi49 20 June 2020 09: 08
      They also have an icebreaker, the second one, designed and built in China.
  7. Thrifty
    Thrifty 20 June 2020 09: 12
    And what prevents them from one old atomic aircraft carrier withdrawn to reserve to rebuild into an atomic icebreaker? Moreover, there the hull will not require reinforcement, they can handle ice up to one and a half meters! Remove all superfluous from the aircraft carrier, conserve some of the equipment, use it as a military super icebreaker.
    1. Free wind
      Free wind 20 June 2020 09: 38
      They do not need him. They are not going to conquer us. Well, they will capture the mouth of Lena, and then what? Well, we sat on the shore, well, you need to go home. But the Chinese need to spray their cockroaches everywhere.
    2. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre 20 June 2020 12: 06
      And what prevents them from one old atomic aircraft carrier withdrawn to reserve to rebuild into an atomic icebreaker?
      Aircraft carrier design.
      Moreover, the hull there will not require reinforcement, they can handle ice up to one and a half meters!
      Even as required. And a power set, to compensate for shock load or ice compression, And the underwater part of the nose and sides. Again, to crawl onto breaking ice, to shock the load, and to compress it with ice, the ship would push upward rather than crush it.
  8. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 20 June 2020 09: 12
    They can order from us.
    1. alstr
      alstr 20 June 2020 10: 40
      We can lease them Krasin. )))) a joke.
  9. Free wind
    Free wind 20 June 2020 09: 28
    Our Bering Strait. The Americans closed their side. Chinese icebreakers can only go to us. Hello everyone, a big hello to the Chinese oblizator, I can’t say anything more.
  10. Sergey-8848
    Sergey-8848 20 June 2020 10: 43
    Trying to determine which lobbyist in the Senate to feed so that plans for reconstruction, development or renewal are not immediately deviated are the main task of the American bourgeoisie with a regular change of power in the White House. The general vector is always one, but cash flows are always distributed very cleverly.
    So here - this memorandum is not Trump at all (he just once again painted a felt-tip pen under it), but corporations seeking to master this piece alone until 2029.
  11. iouris
    iouris 20 June 2020 11: 42
    The US has a planned economy, and it's time to end all the chatter about the "invisible hand of the market." Watch your hands!
    1. Yarhann
      Yarhann 21 June 2020 19: 54
      the planned one only cuts the budget there - as indeed in all capitalist countries, the real sector survives as it can and works in market conditions.
  12. The comment was deleted.
  13. timokhin-aa
    timokhin-aa 21 June 2020 21: 01
    How can you write so incompetent articles?

    VT Halter under the contract is supposed to complete the preliminary design from Finaknteri and lay in 2021, and surrender the first heavy icebreaker in 2024. In fact, we can safely say that it is already under construction - the components and subsystems that were basic in the Fincanteri project will also be transferred to the finalized final project. For example, the whole GEM.

    Regarding "Healy" - transport is not transport, but reached the North Pole. There was no need to write about it. Yes?
    And he did quite well navigate ships to Alaska on ice. "Healy", of course, is rather weak, the depth of ice to be overcome is only 1,6 meters, but this is not "icebreaker transport".

    And also, for the information of the author, the very first funding package that Congress allocated in 2019 for the construction of the first icebreaker also provided funding for the "life extension program" for Polar Star, the purpose of which is to allow the ship to reach as long as Beregovaya the guards will not receive two new icebreakers.

    In general, a shame.
    1. nPuBaTuP
      nPuBaTuP 22 June 2020 07: 33
      In general, a shame.

      Do you already explain to whom it is a shame .... Do you as a fan of mattresses? ... Mattresses, since they do not have a normal icebreaker fleet, or to whom else?
      1. timokhin-aa
        timokhin-aa 22 June 2020 18: 54
        To the author, for not even trying to delve into what he writes about.
  14. KrolikZanuda
    KrolikZanuda 21 June 2020 22: 43
    LK-120 already under construction? The author, what else is there from the future interesting? laughing
  15. Polar Bear
    Polar Bear 15 July 2020 10: 42
    Well, why write stupid nonsense that the Finns who built us the wonderful atomic icebreakers "Taimyr" and "Vaigach" supposedly do not have all the technical documentation? Did they build them on a whim then? Yes, and they themselves are capable of developing a modern icebreaker even better, because as shipbuilders they are an order of magnitude better than our handcraftsmen and shit-makers. All our sailors always prefer to work on Finnish-built ships, especially mechanics, and once they get there they hold on to their seats with their teeth.