Navy Issues Draft RFP For Heavy Polar Icebreaker; Award Planned In FY ’19

The Navy on Thursday issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the Coast Guard’s heavy polar icebreaker with plans still intact to release a final RFP in early 2018 with an award for detailed design and construction in FY ’19, subject to congressional appropriations.

The draft solicitation covers the design and construction of the first heavy icebreaker and options for two more, which is in line with the Coast Guard’s requirement of three heavy polar icebreakers. The service eventually also wants to buy three medium polar icebreakers.

Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star. The cutter was built by the former Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company and was commissioned in 1977. Photo: Coast Guard

Coast Guard heavy polar icebreaker Polar Star. The cutter was built by the former Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company and was commissioned in 1977. Photo: Coast Guard

Cost estimates for a single heavy polar icebreaker are at about $1 billion but the Coast Guard expects that it can drive the actual cost down with multiple buys.

Response to the draft RFP are due by Dec. 11. Currently, five contractors are performing study contracts for the Coast Guard on the heavy icebreaker. Bollinger Shipyards, General Dynamics [GD], Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII], Singapore-based ST Engineering’s VT Halter Marine division, and a U.S. division of Italy’s Fincantieri each received $4 million contracts in February.

The draft RFP was issued through the Integrated Program Office, which is a joint effort of the Coast Guard and Navy and was established at the behest of Congress to ensure a collaborative management approach to the design and acquisition of polar icebreakers that will be operated by the Coast Guard.

The Navy said that the draft RFP will help the IPO refine requirements and reduce buying costs for the heavy icebreaker. The notice was issued on the government’s FedBizOpps.gov business opportunities website but the system specifications and list of government furnished equipment aren’t being made available to the general public.

The contracting agency for the icebreaker is the Naval Sea Systems Command.

The Trump administration is requesting $19 million for the heavy icebreaker in FY ’18 as part of the Coast Guard’s budget. Congress hasn’t completed its FY ’18 appropriations process for the Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The icebreaker program tops the service’s list of unfunded priorities in FY ’18.

Despite the FY ’18 funding request being lower than what the Coast Guard desires, the service has maintained that it is still sufficient to keep the heavy polar icebreaker program on track with delivery of the first cutter in 2023.

The Navy said that the Coast Guard “requires new heavy icebreakers to ensure continued access to both Polar Regions and support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.”

The Coast Guard currently operates one heavy polar icebreaker that is nearing the end of its operational life. The service also operates one medium polar icebreaker.





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