The US Navy has ordered a second Polar Security Cutter from VT Halter Marine under a $552.6 million contract from December 29.
The US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded the contract to the shipbuilder after ordering the first ship in April 2019. In total, up to three ships in the class will potentially be built, should all options be exercised. This would bring the total value of the program to $1.9 billion.
Earlier statements said the first ship is due for delivery in 2024, the second in 2025 and the last in early 2027. The contract announcement from December 29 says work on the second Polar Security Cutter is expected to be completed by September 2026.
The Polar Security Cutter will fill a current, definitive need for the Coast Guard’s statutory mission and provide support for other mission needs in the higher latitudes vital to the economic vitality, scientific inquiry and national interests of the United States.
The service’s current operational polar fleet currently includes one 399-foot heavy icebreaker (Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, commissioned in 1976) and one 420-foot medium icebreaker (Coast Guard Cutter Healy, commissioned in 2000). These cutters are designed for open-water icebreaking and feature reinforced hulls and specially angled bows.
The design of the Polar Security Cutters is an evolution from the ”Polar Stern II” currently in design and construction. The vessels are 460 feet in length with a beam of 88 feet overall, a full load displacement of approximately 22,900 long tons at delivery. The propulsion will be diesel electric at over 45,200 horse power and readily capable of breaking ice between six to eight feet thick. The vessel will accommodate 186 personnel comfortably for an extended endurance of 90 days.
Once in service, the ships will boost the US Coast Guard’s ability to enable the US to maintain defense readiness in the Arctic and Antarctic regions; enforce treaties and other laws needed to safeguard both industry and the environment.