The Coast Guard’s plan to acquire three heavy polar icebreakers (HPIB) is expected to cost $9.8 billion over the next 30 years, according to a GAO interim status report released Friday.

GAO was required to conduct an assessment of the HPIB acquisition program under the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization act, and found a delay in approving the program’s baselines and revised requirements from the Department of Homeland Security.

The $9.8 billion for the program baseline covers the eventual HPIB acquisitions, operations and maintenance costs. DHS officials had planned to approve the cost estimate in December 2017, but the decision was delayed until February 2018.

The delay came about after DHS officials said Coast Guard and Navy leadership had yet to approve ship specifications and finalize the request for proposal (RFP) for the HPIBs.

The Coast Guard’s original January 2016 requirements for the HPIBs also went through a revision beginning in November 2016 and was finalized in January 2018, according to the report.

Revisions to the programs operational requirements included adjusting the range of operating temperatures, reductions to science and survey requirements and adding consideration for new Navy equipment such as multi-mode radars and minor caliber weapons.

The adjusted requirements reduced the estimated cost of the lead HPIB from $1 billion to $900 million, according to the report.

An RFP for the first HPIB was released in March (Defense Daily, March 1).

A contract for the first HPIB is expected to be awarded in the third quarter of FY19. The HPIB acquisition program began in 2012 with the first ship set to be delivered in 2023.