The Navy, in collaboration with the Coast Guard, released a request for proposal (RFP) on March 2 for the advance procurement and detail design for the Coast Guard’s heavy polar icebreaker. The RFP includes options for the detail design and construction for up to three heavy polar icebreakers.

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

The Coast Guard says it needs at least three new heavy icebreakers to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the nation's economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.

The current operational polar icebreaking fleet includes one 399-foot heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, commissioned in 1976, and one 420-foot medium icebreaker, the Healy, commissioned in 2000. These two cutters are designed for open-water icebreaking and feature reinforced hulls and specially angled bows.

Polar Star underwent a three-year reactivation and returned to operations in late 2013. Since then, it has completed three Operation Deep Freeze deployments to resupply the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The Coast Guard expects the Polar Star to remain in service through approximately 2020 to 2023.

The Coast Guard also has a second heavy icebreaker, the Polar Sea, which was placed inactive status in 2011. The Coast Guard is evaluating options to reactivate the ship. Parts from the ship were used to reactivate the Polar Star.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.