Federal Register

8/6/2018: Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Polar icebreaker program available for public comment

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The Coast Guard announced in the Federal Register that it is seeking public comment, as lead agency, on a draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the Polar Icebreaker Program’s design and build of up to six polar icebreakers.

Comments must be submitted to the USCG-2018-0193 online docket on or before Sept. 20, 2018.

If you have questions about this notice of intent, email Mr. Ahmed Majumder, Deputy Program Manager, Polar Icebreaker Program, U.S. Coast Guard; email PIBEnvironment@uscg.mil.


The U.S. Coast Guard’s current fleet of polar icebreakers consists of two heavy icebreakers, Coast Guard cutters Polar Star and Polar Sea, and one medium icebreaker, Coast Guard Cutter Healy. The U.S. Coast Guard’s heavy icebreakers have both exceeded their designed 30 year service life. The current program acquisition strategy is approved to construct up to three heavy polar icebreakers and may (at a future date) potentially expand to include up to three medium icebreakers, with planned service design lives of 30 years each. The first of these new polar icebreakers is expected to delivered in 2023. Because the first new polar icebreaker would not be operational in the Polar Regions until at least 2023, new information may become available after the completion of this EIS. In that case, supplemental NEPA documentation may, as appropriate, be prepared in support of individual proposed actions.

A new polar icebreaker would be designed to carry out the U.S. Coast Guard’s primary missions supported by the current polar icebreaker fleet. Expected missions include ice operations, defense readiness, aids to navigation, living marine resources, marine safety, marine environmental protection, other law enforcement, ports, waterways, and coastal security, and search and rescue.

The U.S. Coast Guard proposes to conduct polar icebreaker operations and training exercises to meet Coast Guard mission responsibilities in the U.S. Arctic and Antarctic Regions of operation, in addition to vessel performance testing post-dry dock in the Pacific Northwest near the current polar icebreaker homeport of Seattle, Washington. The exact location for future homeporting has not been determined, but the current fleet of polar icebreakers is homeported in Seattle, Washington.

For full details, view the Federal Register Notice.

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