US Scrapped Arctic Drills Fearing Only Russia Can Save Its Icebreaker – Official

US

While Russia possesses dozens of icebreakers, including heavy types for polar duty in the Arctic and Antarctica, the US has only two such ships, among them only one heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, with an ever-dwindling service life.

The US Coast Guard at one point decided not to conduct exercises in the Arctic due to fears that the Polar Star, the US’ only heavy icebreaker, could break down and the American side would have to seek help from Russia, according to former Coast Guard commandant Paul Zukunft.

He was cited by Business Insider as saying that when he was the commandant, the National Security Council notified him of their plans to send the Polar Star through the Northern Sea Route and carry out a freedom of navigation drill.

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“I said, ‘Au contraire, it’s a 40-year-old ship. We’re cannibalizing parts off its sister ship just to keep this thing running, and I can’t guarantee you that it won’t have a catastrophic engineering casualty as it’s doing a freedom of navigation exercise, and now I’ve got to call on Russia to pull me out of harm’s way. So this is not the time to do it”, Zukunft pointed out.

He did not elaborate on when the drills were due to be conducted.

Additionally, Zukunft underscored the importance of creating dual-use infrastructure in the Artic in order to support US national defence.

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