(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delano Scott)
A White House memo has directed the Pentagon to begin the process of building a new Arctic and Antarctic icebreaking fleet.
According to The Washington Free Beacon:
A recent White House memo directs the Pentagon and other executive departments to provide a roadmap by early August for creating a security fleet of icebreaker ships, Fox News reported Monday.
The move to acquire icebreaker ships signals Washington’s recognition of the Arctic and Antarctic regions’ increasing geopolitical significance, as well as a willingness to stand up to China and Russia.
The memo comes at a time when the United States has minimal strategic capabilities in the polar regions—there is not a single U.S. port in the Arctic capable of housing icebreaking ships. This shortcoming is addressed by the memo, which orders a search for at least two “optimal” U.S.-based port locations and two international port locations.
Military authorities say the need to bolster U.S. operations in the polar regions is immediate.
The United States only has one “heavy-class icebreaker” the 46-year-old USCGC Polar Star which is 10 years past its expected decommission date.