The U.S. Department of Defense has announced on 23 April that VT Halter Marine was selected to build next generation of heavy polar icebreakers in a contract worth up to $745,9 million.
A statement from the Department of Defense said that the deal covers detail design and construction of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Polar Security Cutter (PSC) (formerly the Heavy Polar Ice Breaker).
The PSC program is a multiple year Department of Homeland Security Level 1 investment and a USCG major system acquisition to acquire up to three multi-mission PSCs to recapitalize the USCG fleet of heavy icebreakers which have exhausted their design service life.
The PSC’s mission will be to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime, and national security needs.
This contract also includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $1,9 billion.
The heavy polar icebreakers will be capable of surface defense using removable weapons and will be capable of fitting with additional sensors and weapons. The ships will be equipped with surface and air search radars, will be capable of communications with other Department of Defense, Coast Guard and National Science Foundation ships and aircraft.
The new fleet of icebreakers will allow the USCG to perform missions in the Arctic such as defense operations and readiness; defending U.S. sovereignty and interests; national security activities and maritime safety; PWCS (ports, waterways, and coastal security); research; search and rescue; and logistic support and vessel escort.
Work is expected to be completed by June 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through November 2027.