Obama Announces Icebreaker Program in Seward

The U.S. is accelerating it’s icebreaker program as part of a newly announced initiative to build capacity in the Arctic.

The White House said in an early morning press release that during his visit to Seward and the Exit Glacier on Tuesday, President Obama will propose speeding up acquisition of a “replacement heavy icebreaker” by two years, from 2022 to 2020.

Obama also plans on working with congress to plan for an expanded icebreaker fleet, “To ensure the United States can operate year-round in the Arctic Ocean.”

Generally, it is Alaska’s congressional delegation that calls for more vessels able to operate in the icy-waters of the high north, and rarely is there much traction.

In the same release, the White House sketched a new observer program in Alaska’s marine waters, partnering federal agencies with Alaska Native communities to gather data on changing ecological conditions, and expanded scientific scientific research projects on Arctic biodiversity.