US Coast Guard issues RFI for Polar Star icebreaker life extension

The US Coast Guard has issued a request for information (RFI) for a service life extension project (SLEP) for heavy icebreaker ‘Polar Star’.

The service life extension project (SLEP) is being undertaken as part of the In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program (ISVS) and will extend the service life of the cutter by four years.

A number of major systems will be recapitalized, including machinery control and propulsion power distribution systems. The RFI is available here.

According to the coast guard, the work will include a six-month long lead time material procurement and detailed design phase, followed by a minimum of three annual repair execution phases between 2021 and 2024.

Polar Star, the Coast Guard’s only active heavy icebreaker, was commissioned in 1976. The 399-foot ship is currently responsible for nine of the 11 Coast Guard statutory missions. Each winter, the cutter travels to McMurdo Station in Antarctica as part of Operation Deep Freeze, which supports the National Science Foundation-managed US Antarctic Program.

A contract for the construction of a new-design icebreaker is scheduled to be awarded in fiscal year 2019 after the navy and coast guard released a request for proposal (RFP) for the advance procurement and detail design on March 2, 2018.

The Coast Guard requires at least three new heavy icebreakers to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.

“The SLEP for Polar Star is essential to maintain year-round access to the polar regions until new heavy polar icebreakers are delivered,” said Ken King, program manager for the ISVS program. “The challenge for this program will be to balance phased SLEP work with continued Polar Star operational deployments.”

Photo: Coast Guard cutter Polar Star sits on blocks in a Vallejo, Calif., dry dock facility undergoing depot-level maintenance including inspections and repairs to critical cutter components prior to the cutter’s next patrol, April 16, 2018. Photo: US Coast Guard