Coast Guard Icebreaker Requirements

T-RCED-89-24: Published: Apr 12, 1989. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 1989.

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GAO discussed the Coast Guard's plans to purchase a new icebreaker, and identified alternatives to purchasing a new vessel. GAO found that the Coast Guard estimated that it would cost $330 million to acquire the icebreaker, and about $7 million in annual operating costs. GAO also found that, although it could not determine whether the Coast Guard actually needed the new icebreaker, it believed that the Coast Guard needed to resolve: (1) the impact of budget constraints on its and other agencies' ability to use the icebreaker to conduct planned research; (2) proposed cost-sharing arrangements with other agencies, which provided little or no incentives for agencies to identify those needs that could be funded; (3) disagreements with the National Science Foundation (NSF) regarding the need for a backup vessel for resupply activities; (4) the uncertainties regarding the number of days the icebreaker would be used, since other agencies planned to obtain their own vessels; (5) the availability of the icebreaker for wartime use; and (6) the adequacy of the new vessel's design to support the type of research and activities performed by current icebreakers. GAO identified alternatives for the Coast Guard to meet its icebreaker needs, including: (1) assigning a third crew to alternate between its existing vessels; (2) relocating its two icebreakers from their current home port to reduce transit time; and (3) obtaining icebreakers from other countries.

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