U.S. senators from Mississippi praised the announcement on Tuesday that Pascagoula, Miss.-based shipbuilder VT Halter Marine Inc. was awarded a major contract to build the next generation of U.S. Coast Guard polar icebreakers.
A United States presence in the polar regions is vital given the demands from increased commerce, tourism and research in the Arctic and Antarctic, the Coast Guard said. The new contract will help the Coast Guard strengthen its heavy polar icebreaker capabilities in order to help it conduct national missions and respond to critical events.
“I’m very pleased VT Halter and its shipbuilders won the selection to lead the charge in ongoing Homeland Security efforts to strengthen the Coast Guard icebreaker fleet and ensure U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic,” said U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), who serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the Coast Guard. “These advanced ships will help address national security, law enforcement, and humanitarian missions in the polar regions.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard, added, “The Coast Guard’s heavy polar icebreakers are a critical part of our nation’s ability to protect our interests in the polar regions.”
The initial award totals $745.9 million for VT Halter Marine to design and build the Coast Guard’s lead Polar Security Cutter, though if all options are exercised, the contract value will total nearly $2 billion.
“The ships we build in Mississippi will help close the gap in our polar defense and ensure American mariners cannot be denied access to the Arctic region by our adversaries,” Wicker said.