Sullivan Introduces Arctic Focus Act to Direct Coast Guard Operations to America’s Arctic

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), ranking member of the Senate Commerce subcommittee with oversight of the Coast Guard, today introduced the Arctic Focus Act, legislation to ensure the historic investments being made in the Arctic achieve their intended benefits for the United States, including improving America’s ability to operate in the Arctic, securing economic opportunities as sea ice recedes and traffic increases, and addressing threats posed by America’s adversaries. The Coast Guard is the lead agency tasked with safeguarding U.S. interests in the Arctic. 

“We are making significant investments in vessels, infrastructure, research and personnel to expand America’s presence in the Arctic, yet the United States continues to trail Russia, and even China,” said Sen. Sullivan. “If we are to keep pace with our adversaries and realize our role as an Arctic nation, these historic investments need to be directed by policy and clearly defined objectives that advance America’s economic and national security interests in this important region. I look forward to discussing the goals of the Arctic Focus Act with my colleagues as we work to protect America’s sovereignty in our Arctic and build upon the enormous progress we’ve made these past six years.” 

The Arctic Focus Act provides congressional direction to the Coast Guard to: 

  • Prioritize Arctic operations over Antarctic deployments when there are insufficient assets to conduct both operations;
  • Provide sufficient icebreaking capacity to keep the Northwest Passage open for commerce, national defense, rescue and recovery operations, and scientific exploration by 2030;
  • Homeport one icebreaking vessel in the Arctic by 2030, where their work exists;
  • Provide persistent presence with at least one major cutter on patrol in the Arctic to execute search-and-rescue operations, fisheries enforcement, pollution response, and support for national defense operations.

The bill also requires the Coast Guard to report to Congress on a plan to achieve these objectives, as well as the ability to conduct a transit of the Northern Sea Route and periodic transits of the Northwest Passage.

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