Washington September 2, 2015 - “The President's announcement demonstrates that the United States is an Arctic nation and affirms the Coast Guard’s role in providing assured access to the Polar Regions. We look forward to working with the Administration, Congress and the many other Arctic stakeholders to ensure these platforms meet our national security objectives well into the 21st century.”
The Coast Guard has been the sole operator and custodian of the nation’s polar icebreaking capability since 1965, providing assured access in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. National Arctic Region policy emphasizes the importance of the Arctic and the broad interests our nation has in the region and our icebreakers are a key component of our strategy there. The Coast Guard utilizes U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Healy and Polar Star to meet present day icebreaking needs in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The missions of U.S. polar icebreakers are to conduct and support scientific research in the Arctic and Antarctic; defend U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic by helping to maintain a U.S. presence in U.S. territorial waters in the region; defend other U.S. interests in polar regions, including economic interests in waters that are within the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) north of Alaska; monitor sea traffic in the Arctic, including ships bound for the United States; conduct other typical Coast Guard missions (such as search and rescue, law enforcement, and protection of marine resources) in Arctic waters, including U.S. territorial waters north of Alaska.