Coast Guard Acquisitions: Addressing Key Risks Is Important to Success of Polar Icebreaker Program


GAO-19-255T: Published: Nov 29, 2018.

The Coast Guard and Navy are planning to invest up to $9.8 billion to build and maintain three heavy polar icebreakers to conduct missions in the Antarctic and Arctic. The first ship is scheduled for delivery in 2023.

We testified on key risks facing the icebreaker program, including:

  • the program has not fully assessed how well key technologies will work on these ships,
  • its cost estimate may underestimate the funding needed, and
  • it set ship delivery dates that are optimistic and not based on a realistic shipbuilding assessment.

In September 2018, we made recommendations to address these and other risks.

The Coast Guard’s Heavy Polar Icebreaker, Polar Star

A photo of the cutter Polar Star in ice-filled water.



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