Rep. Duncan Hunter is urging President Trump not to forget about the Coast Guard’s needs in the Arctic as he starts working to rebuild the military.

The California Republican wrote in a letter to Trump that the Coast Guard was “severely underfunded” under the Obama administration, and lacks capabilities in the Arctic to compete with other countries with claims in the region, like Russia.

“Not only have we not build a new icebreaker since the late 1970s, the Coast Guard is being forced to order parts online and cannibalize older vessels to maintain a minimum level of operability – just to operate a single heavy icebreaker,” Hunter wrote.

The Coast Guard currently operates one heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, and one medium icebreaker, the Healy, which can’t cut through the thickest ice. The Polar Star recently underwent a three-year reactivation, which is expected to extend the life of the ship. The ship was commissioned in 1976, and the overhaul is expected to keep the ship in operation into the next decade.

Because of the time it takes to build an icebreaker, the country would face a gap in that capability even if work began today. The service has said that it needs at least six icebreakers – three heavy and three medium.

Hunter said funding for these new icebreakers should be a “high priority” for the administration.

President Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget request included $150 million to begin procurement of a new icebreaker, but the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense bill far exceeded that, and provided about $1 billion. But the Senate never voted to provide the Coast Guard that money because the country is currently operating under a continuing resolution.

He and others argue that strategic control of the Arctic depends on funding new icebreakers, something Russia has done. Russia currently has 40 icebreakers and it is working on its biggest icebreaker yet, the Arktika.

“It should be of tremendous concern that next to this vessel, there is no equivalent in the world,” Hunter wrote. “In other words, Russia is not just exceeding the U.S. in icebreaker production and Arctic presence, they’re in a class by themselves and setting a standard, supported by enhanced capability, that is unmatched.”

Schumer: GOP will ditch Trump by the summer

Also from the Washington Examiner

The Senate minority leader made an appearance on “The View.”

02/21/17 1:10 PM

Trump vows to fight intolerance after rise in anti-Semitic activity

Top Story

President Trump vowed to address prejudice against the African-American and Jewish communities.

02/21/17 10:37 AM

Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply