U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington and Lisa Murkowski have introduced a bill that would allow the Coast Guard to build as many as six heavy icebreakers.
Murkowski calls it a military necessity and a down payment on an Arctic future. The Coast Guard has only two working icebreakers now.
The head of the Coast Guard says the need for icebreakers critical. Still, he and other Coast Guard officials say they need off-shore patrol cutters even more. Each heavy icebreaker is estimated to cost about $1 billion.
The Cantwell-Murkowski bill says Congress would have to include funds in future spending bills to pay for the ships.