The Navy on Tuesday awarded Halter Marine Inc. a $552.7 million contract option to construct the second Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC), with delivery expected in September 2026 although the date is subject to negotiations and will be formalized when the construction date for the heavy icebreaker is established.
Halter Marine, formerly VT Halter Marine, has yet to begin construction on the first PSC due to various program delays, including significant impacts from COVID-19. The Coast Guard said on Wednesday that construction of the first heavy polar icebreaker will begin in 2022 and will be delivered in 2025, one year later than originally expected due to the delays.
The Coast Guard said that initial funding under the detail design and construction contract for the second PSC will be limited to the purchase of generator sets, which are long-lead time materials for future production to ensure commonality across the first two ships.
The Coast Guard currently plans to acquire at least three new heavy polar icebreakers and three medium polar icebreakers.
Halter Marine’s ship designer for the PSC is Technology Associates Engineers, Inc. The design of the ship is being finalized and is based on the 460-foot German Polarstern II double-hulled icebreaker used for research in the Arctic. Halter Marine is also teamed with Switzerland’s ABB and Trident Marine for the Azipod propulsion and power distribution system, Raytheon Technologies [RTX] for the command-and-control systems integration, Caterpillar [CAT] for the main engines, Jamestown Metal Marine for the joiner package, and Canada’s Bronswerk for the HVAC system.
The Polarstern II vessels have a beam of 88-feet and full load displacement of 22,900 long tons. The PSC propulsion will be diesel electric and provide more than 45,2000 horse power and be capable of continuously breaking ice between six to eight-feet thick. Halter Marine said the ships will accommodate 186 personnel for an extended endurance of 90 days.
The Coast Guard currently has a fleet of two polar icebreakers, the 399-foot Polar Star, which is a heavy icebreaker and the 420-foot Healy, a medium icebreaker. The Polar Star was commissioned in 1976 and is typically used to break ice to aid an annual resupply mission to a U.S. science mission in Antarctica. The ship, which is undergoing a periodic service life extension through 2025, is expected to remain in service for at least another six or seven years.
The Coast Guard maintains that the first PSC will be ready in 2027 for Operation Deep Freeze, the mission to Antarctica.
The PSC program is managed by a Coast Guard-Navy integrated program office.
Halter Marine is part of ST Engineering North America, which is the U.S. headquarters of Singapore-based ST Engineering.
The Navy said the funding for the second PSC includes $485.2 million come from fiscal year 2021 Coast Guard appropriations, $100 million from FY ’20 and $20 million from FY ’19.