Bollinger Shipyards this week introduced it has begun chopping metal at Bollinger Mississippi Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. on the primary of eight prototype modules that can grow to be the muse of the primary U.S. Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter (PSC), USCGC Polar Sentinel (PSC-1)—the primary heavy icebreaker to be constructed within the United States in 50 years.
“Today marks a major step for each Bollinger Shipyards and the United States,” mentioned Ben Bordelon, President and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards. “After over 50 years, we’re back to building heavy icebreakers. We’re honored that responsibility lies with Bollinger. Beginning work on the first Prototype Fabrication Assembly Unit is an important step closer toward commencing construction on the first Polar Security Cutter. This isn’t just an important milestone for our company, it’s also an important step for our national defense. Simply put, the United States is back in the icebreaker business.”
The hull of a heavy polar icebreaker is required to be much thicker than other Coast Guard cutters because of the pressure exerted on the ship by the surrounding ice. Therefore, before the full construction process on the PSC program begins, the prototype modules test the new systems, processes, people, and tools that are required to work with the specialized steel. The lessons learned from building the prototype module will be used to help ensure design completeness and improve the quality and efficiency of the manufacturing process.
“We’re relearning how to build this type of ship,” mentioned PSC program supervisor Capt. Eric Drey. “It’s the first heavy icebreaker built by our nation in 50 years. It’s not just a big day for the Coast Guard, but a big day for the nation.”
Each module requires roughly 4 months of labor, throughout which period Bollinger will proceed recruiting and coaching further members of the workforce to handle the transition to manufacturing of the lead hull because the prototype modules are accomplished, the shipbuilder mentioned.
The PSC program will recapitalize the U.S. Coast Guard’s ageing fleet of icebreakers, presently consisting of the heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (commissioned in 1976) and the medium icebreaker USCGC Healy (commissioned in 1999), with three new multi-mission vessels.
The PSC program is managed by the USCG and U.S. Navy by an built-in program workplace. In April 2019, Halter Marine—since acquired by Bollinger—was awarded the contract for the element design and building of the lead PSC. The contract possibility for the second PSC was exercised in December 2021. The first vessel is predicted to enter service in mid-to-late-2020s and can be named USCGC Polar Sentinel.