Russia's Icebreaker Fleet Is About to Get Bigger and More Dangerous
America is falling further and further behind in the Arctic
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October 2, 2019 - by Charlie Gao for nationalinterest.org
- Key point: Russia is speeding ahead of America when it comes to building an icebreaker fleet to patrol (and control) the thawing Arctic.
Recently, the state of the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreaker fleet has been making waves in Washington, DC. Republicans have suggested diverting funding from the Coast Guard's initiative to acquire a new heavy icebreaker to the border wall.
This comes at a time where Russia and China are investing more and more money into the Arctic capabilities of their militaries, including icebreakers. But what is Russia's overall Arctic strategy? How do icebreakers fit into that picture and enable them to project power into the Arctic, and what do they stand to gain?
The current state of the relative size of icebreaker fleets is best summed up in one diagram put out by the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Waterways and Ocean Policy. There are some key points to be seen here.
Only the United States and Russia operate "heavy" icebreakers, indicated in black. Those icebreakers have the highest amount of power available to them, allowing them to operate in the thickest ice sheets.
Of those heavy icebreakers, America only has one operational...
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