US Coast Guard Wants Icebreakers With Advanced Missiles

Could Disrupt Arctic Cooperation

The US Coast Guard has two icebreakers, but both are aging, and one is ready to be scrapped outright. That’s got the Coast Guard interested in shopping for more, and while they’re at it, Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft would like some that you can strap a bunch of missiles to.

Talking up the substantial natural resources buried under the ice in he Arctic, Zukunft is telling Congress that they should stop seeing the icebreakers as being about breaking ice,and more about firing missiles at planes and ships threatening “US sovereignty” over whatever is buried under that ice.

Specialists are warning that re-designing America’s icebreakers around carrying arsenals of missiles might get int he way of their transitional mission of breaking ice, and not exactly in keeping with the idea of the coast guard’s search and rescue operations.

Zukunft is presenting this as necessary to respond to the “threat” of China in the Arctic. China has a single Ukrainian-built civilian icebreaker, but Zukunft suggested that “next thing we know” China would start taking US oil out of the Arctic Ocean. China, of course, has no territorial claims in the Arctic.

But perhaps the fiction of a Chinese “threat” makes sense because the US has been investing so substantially in challenging China in the South China Sea, in which the US has no territorial claims but is constantly faulting China for talk of exploiting offshore energy reserves. Perhaps they figure China would do the same in the American Arctic.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.