VT Halter Marine to build first new heavy icebreaker for US Coast Guard in over 40 years

The US Coast Guard and US Navy have awarded VT Halter Marine a contract for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the lead Polar Security Cutter (PSC).

Under an initial award valued at $745.9 million, the Pascagoula-based shipbuilder will design and deliver the first new heavy icebreaker for the US Coast Guard in over 40 years.

The Coast Guard’s sole operational heavy icebreaker was commissioned in 1976.

The April 23 contract also includes options for the construction of two additional PSCs. If all options are exercised, the total contract value is $1.9 billion.

Construction on the first PSC is planned to begin in 2021 with delivery planned for 2024. The US Naval Sea Systems Command, the lead contracting authority on the program, noted that the contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

The second and third vessels are expected to be delivered in 2025 and 2027, respectively. PSCs are 460 feet in length with a beam of 88 feet overall, and a full load displacement of about 33,000 long tons at delivery.

“Against the backdrop of great power competition, the Polar Security Cutter is key to our nation’s presence in the polar regions,” said Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant of the Coast Guard. “With the strong support of both the Trump Administration and the United States Congress, this contract award marks an important step towards building the nation’s full complement of six polar icebreakers to meet the unique mission demands that have emerged from increased commerce, tourism, research, and international activities in the Arctic and Antarctic.”

Photo: Illustration. US Coast Guard file photo of USCGC Polar Star