Given the environmental, research and security priorities in the Arctic Region Policy, it bears remembering that the U.S. Coast Guard currently has only three icebreakers, one of which - the Polar Star - is out of service. One need not adopt entirely Scott Borgerson's colorful characterization of the three as "a geriatric bunch desperately in need of revitalization and/or replacement" in his analysis today of the new policy, to see that the U.S. needs more and improved icebreaker capacity.
According to the Coast Guard, The Polar Sea and Polar Star, both 399-foot polar class icebreakers, were "built in the 1970s and the newest and most technologically advanced icebreaker, the Cutter HEALY was added to the fleet in November 1999." The Healy, a 420-foot icebreaker, supports scientific research as one of its primary missions, including the mapping of the U.S. extended continental shelf discussed in much more detail elsewhere in this blog. This summer the National Academy of Sciences and the Pentagon's Pacific, Northern and Transportation commands were among those supporting calls to increase United States icebreaker capacity.