On June 12, 2009, US Representative Don Young ( R ) Alaska introduced the HR 2865 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Implementation Act of 2009 in the US House of Representatives.
Among the “Findings” in the Bill, HR 2865, are that:
“(7) The United States has continuing research, security, environmental, and commercial interests in the Arctic region that rely on the availability of icebreaker platforms of the Coast Guard. The Polar Class icebreakers commissioned in the 1970s are in need of replacement.”
“(9) Building new icebreakers, mustering international plans for aids to navigation and other facilities, and establishing coordinated shipping regulations and oil spill prevention and response capability through international cooperation, including the approval of the International Maritime Organization, requires long lead times. Beginning those efforts now, with the completion of an Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment by the eight-nation Arctic Council, is essential to protect United States interests given the extensive current use of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas by vessels of many nations.”
Importantly, the Bill places these icebreaking capacity questions in the international framework provided by the International Maritime Organization and emphasizes the need for circumpolar agreements to coordinate activities amongst the Arctic coastal and other seafaring states:
“SEC. 3. INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION AGREEMENTS.
To carry out the purpose of this Act, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall work through the International Maritime Organization to establish agreements to promote coordinated action among the United States, Russia, Canada, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark and other seafaring and Arctic nations to ensure, in the Arctic—
(1) placement and maintenance of aids to navigation;
(2) appropriate icebreaking escort, tug, and salvage capabilities;
(3) oil spill prevention and response capability;
(4) maritime domain awareness, including long-range vessel tracking; and
(5) search and rescue.”
See also this unofficial Coast Guard blog entry on the proposed bill.