NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—Obtaining some funding in fiscal year 2020 to purchase long-lead materials for the Coast Guard’s second heavy polar icebreaker would help with production planning and provide savings in the program through bulk purchases, the top executive for the shipbuilder of the new Polar Security Cutter said on Wednesday.

Funding to build the second Polar Security Cutter (PSC) hopefully will come in FY ’21 to maintain production efficiencies, Ronald Baczkowski, president and CEO of VT Halter Marine, told Defense Daily

in an interview here on the final day of the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space convention.

VT Halter Marine, a U.S.-based business of Singapore’s ST Engineering, won a potential $1.9 billion contract in late April from the Navy to build up to three PSCs. The initial obligation is $745.9 million for the first vessel, which is scheduled for deliver in 2024. The contract includes incentives for the Mississippi-based shipbuilder to deliver the ship in late 2023, which is around the time Coast Guard originally planned for.

Artist rendering of the Polar Security Cutter. (Image: VT Halter Marine Inc.)
Artist rendering of the 460-foot Polar Security Cutter. (Image: VT Halter Marine Inc.)

Funding for the first PSC came from the Coast Guard and Navy, which operate an Integrated Program Office for the program. The Coast Guard is requesting $35 million in FY ’20, which Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz says will maintain program management.

Schultz has said that hopefully the budget requests for the PSC will be more substantial in FY ’21 and beyond.

VT Halter said on Wednesday that delivery of the second ship is scheduled for 2025 and the third ship in 2027. The Coast Guard’s current plan is for at least six new polar icebreakers, with at least three of them being heavy ships.

Once the production line gets “hot,” then discussions will take place about the right numbers of icebreakers the nation needs, Schultz has been saying.

VT Halter will be conducting its detailed design of the PSC through late 2020, when a production readiness review is scheduled, Baczkowski said. This fall there will be a preliminary design review to be followed about six months later by a critical design review, he said.

The company released details of its winning ship design at the Navy League show. The 460-foot ship is an evolution of a parent craft, the research vessel Polar Stern II, which was designed by Germany’s Ship Design & Consult (SDC) and is being built by German shipbuilder HDW.

VT Halter’s teammates on the PSC include ship designer Technology Associates, Inc. (TAI), which has been involved in the design for over two years and has made “a lot of modifications” in a number of areas to meet Coast Guard requirements, Baczkowski said. The team went through six design spirals to refine the design and the major modifications include changes in the hull form to enhance the ship’s icebreaking capabilities and keep the ice clear from the propulsors and sensors, habitability improvements for comfort particularly in open water, easier access to different areas of the ship, and maintenance and endurance capabilities.

The PSC is being designed to carry 186 crew members comfortably for 90 days.

Raytheon [RTN] is the integrator for C5I capabilities on the ship and the main engines will be supplied by Caterpillar [CAT]. Switzerland-based ABB and Netherlands-based Trident are supplying the Azipod propulsion system, Florida-based Jamestown Metal Marine is supplying the joiner package, and Netherlands-based Bronswerk the heating, ventilation and cooling system.

The ship’s design includes margin for weight, space and power based on Coast Guard needs now and, in the future, Baczkowski said.

The diesel electric engines will provide more than 42,500 horsepower to help break ice between 6- and 8-feet think. The beam is 88 feet.

During the competitive design study phase of the program, VT Halter and TAI conducted five ship model tank tests at SDC’s facilities in Germany.

VT Halter beat out proposals from Bollinger Shipyards and a U.S.-based division of Italy’s Fincantieri to build the PSC. The award is still subject to protest.

The PSC will replace the Coast Guard’s sole active heavy polar icebreaker, the 43-year old Polar Star, which is slated to undergo continual maintenance until at least the new vessel is operational.