2022 Coast Guard Authorization Act Includes Sullivan’s Alaska Priorities

Bill Focuses on Arctic Capabilities, Improved Maritime Communications, Support for Coast Guardsmen & Families

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation (CST) Committee, voted today with 82 of his Senate colleagues to pass the Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022. The bill was passed as part of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Sen. Sullivan championed an increase in appropriation levels that will enable the Coast Guard to carry out vessel capitalization and infrastructure development, particularly in the Arctic and Alaska, and support the Coast Guard’s wide range of missions, including stopping the movement of drugs and illegal migrants, enforcing U.S. laws at sea, combating illegal fishing, and protecting the nation’s borders. The authorization also provides significant support for Coast Guardsmen and their families through pay and benefits improvements, adjustments to basic housing allowances, and increased support for members serving in remote locations, providing service members with greater peace of mind as they fulfill their duties to the country.

“The United States Coast Guard is vital to the security of our nation, particularly in Alaska. This authorization bill makes great strides in fulfilling our commitment to this branch of the U.S. military with the support, funding and attention the Coast Guard deserves,” said Sen. Sullivan. “America’s Coast Guardsmen will have the most advanced and robust fleet of vessels and shore-side infrastructure to continue successfully executing their wide array of critical missions in defense of our nation.”

Major authorizations in the 2022 Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act include:

  • $300 million for the acquisition of a twelfth National Security Cutter.
  • $650 million for the continued acquisition of Offshore Patrol Cutters.
  • $167 million for a third Polar Security Cutter.
  • $150 million for the procurement of a commercially available icebreaker.
  • $420 million for six additional Fast Response Cutters. 

Arctic and Alaska Focus 

“Alaska is a critical focus of the U.S. Coast Guard—the state with America’s only Arctic territory and the largest Coast Guard base in the country,” said Sen. Sullivan. “With this bill, we are no longer just discussing the Arctic theoretically—we are making substantial investments. Those investments include fully funding the acquisition of a commercially available icebreaker as a gap strategy to support the Arctic mission while the Polar Security Cutters are being built, and better positioning Alaska to be the homeport location for the vessel. Also important for our state, this legislation will improve the communication systems our mariners rely on to stay safe and alert on the high seas—a key concern of Alaska fishermen in the wake of the Russian naval exercises off of our coastline in 2020.” 

Sen. Sullivan authored a number of Alaska-focused provisions in the bill, including language: 

  • Directing the Coast Guard to submit a report on the ability and a timeline to conduct a transit of the Northern Sea Route and periodic transits of the Northwest Passage. This provision is an excerpt from Sen. Sullivan’s Arctic Focus Act.
  • Authorizing the conveyance of 2.4 acres of waterfront property from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the Coast Guard to facilitate icebreaker homeporting. If not claimed by the Coast Guard, the property would instead be conveyed to the City and Borough of Juneau for use in the Juneau Small Cruise Ship Infrastructure Master Plan.
  • Requiring the Coast Guard to achieve 98 percent operational availability of remote Alaska Rescue 21 communications systems no later than August 30, 2023. This provision will improve how the public, particularly the North Pacific maritime and fishing industry, is made aware of certain outages and activities.
  • Requiring the Coast Guard to work with the Defense and State Departments, and the fishing community, to improve how U.S. mariners are notified of military exercises and activities within the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This provision comes in response to a dangerous encounter between Russian warships and Alaska fishermen in the U.S. EEZ in August 2020.  
  • Creating a civilian position to oversee and develop Alaska oil spill planning criteria, and requiring the Coast Guard commandant to develop training on the program for all personnel with duties that involve the program.
  • Directing the Coast Guard to provide contract assurances to better ensure the ability of the United States to carry out oil spill clean-ups.  
  • Ensuring that oil spill response vessels, vessels of opportunity, and fishing vessels towing boom or fishing nets are not subject to misplaced requirements to receive towing endorsements, thus eliminating discrepancies in enforcement across Districts.
  • Reauthorizing the fishing safety training grant program.
  • Providing regulatory certainty for commercial fishing vessels from onerous, unenforced regulations.
  • Allowing the use of Automatic Identification Systems to mark fishing equipment for two years, or until the FCC promulgates a final rule to authorize a device to mark the equipment.  
  • Providing relief from ill-fitting, onerous regulations for certain fishing vessels that also operate as tender vessels while the GAO conducts a study identifying an appropriate application of load line regulations.
  • Requiring the Coast Guard to maintain at least one Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program in every Coast Guard District. The provision is an outgrowth of previous legislation from Senator Sullivan that required the Coast Guard to report on the feasibility of creating a Coast Guard ROTC program.
  • Taking actions to assist the completion of the Pribilof Island transition.
  • Improving the Port Coordination Council for Point Spencer by expanding membership and establishing a chair of the council.
  • Requiring the secretary of homeland security to deny port access for vessels receiving negative certifications under the High Seas Drift Net Moratorium Protection Act, or vessels that are registered with certain nations with reports under the same act—as included in provisions of Sen. Sullivan’s FISH Act.
  • Prohibiting Russian vessels from operating in U.S. waters.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act also provides significant support for the health and well-being of Coast Guardsmen and their families. These provisions:

  • Provide a discount at military child development centers (CDCs) for families with multiple children; require certain standards of every CDC; and establish a child care subsidy program to provide financial assistance to eligible providers.
  • Better align the Coast Guard’s behavioral health policy with the DOD’s policies, an effort led by Sens. Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
  • Ensure certain members of the Coast Guard are eligible for the military’s basic needs allowance.
  • Require the Coast Guard to develop a strategy to improve the quality of life at remote installations that addresses housing, health care, and child care.
  • Require a study on housing access, costs, and associated challenges facing members of the Coast Guard.

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