The Russian military is investing heavily in icebreakers in a quest to secure the Arctic, even as the U.S. Coast Guard continues to lag far behind due to a lack of resources.
“If you look at what Russia is doing, there’s almost a mini arms buildup going on in the Arctic,” said Coast Guard Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, who noted that Russia has built six new heavy icebreakers.
The U.S. Coast Guard currently has only one, and it is aged; at 40 years old, the Polar Star is near the end of its service life.
Midgette said no heavy icebreakers have been built for the Coast Guard since Polar Star was launched in 1976.
The ship’s onboard computer is so antiquated that the Coast Guard had to find old parts online, including on eBay.
President Trump promised Coast Guard cadets earlier this year that help is on the way, but a new icebreaker is at least seven years away from being completed. Meanwhile, Russia continues its buildup in a part of the world that is vital to both the U.S. and its allies. [source]
(Analyst comment: At this point, barring any emergency shipbuilding effort — which doesn’t seem likely — the U.S. is hopelessly behind in keeping an armed presence in the Arctic, where there are believed to be huge deposits of natural resources. It’s likely that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is always looking at U.S. vulnerabilities, found this one early on and decided to exploit it. He’s done a superb job in this case, as in game, set, and match.)