U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft delivered the 2016 state of the Coast Guard address Tuesday, recognizing the 88,000 men and women who serve in the Coast Guard, and thanking the Congress and the Administration for delivering an authorization bill along with the largest acquisition budget in the Coast Guard’s history.
While Zukunft’s focus was on drug traffic interdiction, he also talked about the Coast Guard’s Arctic Strategy and how the budget will allow it to renew its diminishing fleet of heavy icebreakers.
He said that today the Coast Guard has only one heavy duty icebreaker capable of operating in ice up to 21 feet thick. The Polar Star is 40 years old and if it should fail, the U.S. has no self-rescue capability in thick ice.
He added that he will lead the effort for safety, security and environmental stewardship of the Arctic.
Also mentioned was the Coast Guard’s Human Capital Strategy whereby it intends to make a commensurate investment in people whose skill sets are necessary to operate the aircraft, cutters and rescue boats.