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VT Halter Marine to build new Coast Guard icebreaker. Here’s more.

The United State Coast Guard cutter Polar Star sits at anchor in Elliott Bay Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in Seattle. The Polar Star (WAGB-10), commissioned in 1976, is the United State’s only heavy icebreaker.
The United State Coast Guard cutter Polar Star sits at anchor in Elliott Bay Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in Seattle. The Polar Star (WAGB-10), commissioned in 1976, is the United State’s only heavy icebreaker. AP

VT Halter Marine has been awarded a $745 million detailed design and construction contract for the Coast Guard’s next-generation heavy icebreaker, according to USNI News.

Halter’s bid won over two other finalists. Halter Senior Vice President Robert Socha said the award means the shipyard will hire up to 450 more employees, on top of the 400 it’s already adding to build four barracks barges for the U.S. Navy. The hiring would push Halter’s total employment above 1,300.

Socha said VT Halter CEO Ronald Baczkowski was among those celebrating late Tuesday when the contract was announced.

“Ron started screaming and hollering, ‘We won! We won!’” Socha said.

The ship will be built in the Pascagoula shipyard. Construction is excepted to begin in 2021 and finish in 2024. However, the contract includes incentives for early delivery, according to the report.

The icebreaker will be the first of six icebreakers, three heavy and three medium.

“Against the backdrop of great power competition, the Polar Security Cutter is key to our nation’s presence in the polar regions,” Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, said in a Tuesday statement.

“With the strong support of both the Trump Administration and the United States Congress, this contract award marks an important step towards building the nation’s full complement of six polar icebreakers to meet the unique mission demands that have emerged from increased commerce, tourism, research, and international activities in the Arctic and Antarctic.”

The contract comes after proposals from the Coast Guard and the Navy last year for the new ships, according to USNI News.

The Coast Guard currently has two icebreakers, heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10), commissioned in 1976, and medium icebreaker USCGC Healy (WAGB-20) that was commissioned in 1999.

The new icebreaker has not been named.

Britneé Davis is McClatchy’s South Region Digital Producer. The south region includes the Sun Herald, the Telegraph, and the Ledger-Enquirer.

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