Coast Guard: Observations on Arctic Requirements, Icebreakers, and Coordination with Stakeholders
The gradual retreat of polar sea ice, combined with an expected increase in human activity--shipping traffic, oil and gas exploration, and tourism in the Arctic region--has increased the strategic interest that the United States and other nations have in the Arctic. As a result, the U.S. Coast Guard, within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has responsibilities in the Arctic, which are expected to increase. This testimony provides an update of: (1) the extent to which the Coast Guard has taken actions to identify requirements for future Arctic operations; (2) issues related to the U.S. icebreaking fleet; and (3) the extent to which the Coast Guard is coordinating with stakeholders on Arctic issues. This statement is based on GAO-10-870, issued in September 2010, and includes selected updates. For the selected updates, GAO analyzed Coast Guard, Department of Defense (DOD,) and other related documents on Arctic operations and capabilities. GAO also interviewed Coast Guard and DOD officials about efforts to identify Arctic requirements and coordinate with stakeholders.