WASHINGTON DC, The USA – According to journalist Sabrina Shankman of NBC News, this fleet is in terrible condition, adding that currently only two icebreakers are operational.
The main goals of icebreakers include scientific data collection, rescue of ships locked in the ice and the neutralization of oil leaks in remote parts of the planet. In addition, these vessels guarantee US interests in the Arctic regions, as the melting of the glaciers opens new commercial opportunities in the Arctic.
However, the channel indicates that one of the icebreakers in service, the Polar Star, built 40 years ago, has already exceeded the service life and reports frequent malfunctions.
At the same time, the second, Healy, was built in 2000 and today is only capable of performing scientific tasks.
The author points out that, at best, a new US icebreaker will enter Arctic waters in five years, while Russia now has more than 40 such ships in the region. However, to achieve this, the US government needs to invest billions of dollars, but instead the White House spends huge sums to build a wall on the Mexican border, the channel underlines.
In this connection, many experts say that in the race for the Arctic, the US is being overtaken by Russia. It is one thing for a ship to be frozen on the ice, as several countries can help in this case. Another completely different thing is when an opponent tries to invade the exclusive US economic zone or enter the arms race with the US.
“The reality is that the United States has ignored the Arctic,” said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., who has advocated for an expanded icebreaker fleet. “We have forfeited what will be the major sea route between Asia and Europe. Control of the ocean will be ceded to Russia and China.”
However, the article recalls that at the time of World War II, the US fleet of icebreakers was at its peak, with seven ships. But that era is over. The Trump Administration proposed allocating $750 million to a new ship, but the money was eventually invested in the wall on the Mexican border.
“We’re the greatest maritime power in the world, and we’re just hoping that a ship built in the `70s can last,” said Heather Conley, a senior vice president focusing on the Arctic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonprofit policy research group.