Senators want to close the icebreaker gap

Image: Murkowski and Cantwell
U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., call on the White House to upgrade the Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet. In the background are workers at Vigor Shipyards, where the icebreaker USCGS Healy is undergoing maintenance. (GeekWire photo by Alan Boyle)

Two U.S. senators from opposite sides of the aisle – Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski – teamed up on Friday to hold President Barack Obama to his word when it comes to beefing up the U.S. Coast Guard’s sagging fleet of polar icebreakers.

“We are falling behind in our icebreaking capacity,” Cantwell said during a news conference at Seattle’s Vigor Shipyards, where the medium icebreaker Healy is undergoing maintenance. She underscored her concern in a letter that was sent to Obama and released to journalists.

“There is a race to the Arctic – and the United States isn’t even in the game,” Cantwell said in the letter.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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