Sullivan Works to Include Coast Guard in Defense Authorization for First Time

Bill authorizes $745 million for 2nd U.S. heavy icebreaker in a generation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) on Friday welcomed the Senate’s passage of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included the Sullivan-authored Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020, reauthorizing the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal years 2020 through 2021. This is the first time the Coast Guard authorization bill has been coupled with the annual defense authorization, an effort that Sullivan has championed for several years. 

“It has long been a goal of mine to integrate the annual Coast Guard Authorization Act with the defense authorization that we pass every year with strong, bipartisan majorities,” said Senator Sullivan. “We did it this year, and I am hopeful this sets a good precedent for future NDAAs. By joining these authorizations together, we are demonstrating to our brave Coast Guardsmen that their service and sacrifice are just as important to our country as our other uniformed military members.” 

The 2020 reauthorization aims to ensure the Coast Guard can carry out vessel capitalization and infrastructure development, and support its range of missions, including maritime safety, drug and illegal migrant interdiction, U.S. laws at sea enforcement, protection of our nation’s borders, and support for Department of Defense operations. Importantly for Alaska, the bill also authorizes $745 million for the second heavy Polar-class icebreaker. In the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA, Senator Sullivan secured a provision authorizing the construction of six new icebreakers for the Coast Guard, America’s first new icebreakers in forty years. A contract has since been awarded for the first icebreaker, with options to build up to three. Construction on the first new icebreaker will begin in 2021.

“Alaskans know better than most the invaluable work done by the U.S. Coast Guard, which stands as the first line of defense, and rescue and crisis response for our 33,000 miles of coastline,” said Senator Sullivan. “This year’s authorization will give the Coast Guard the resources and direction it needs to successfully execute its missions, and also protect America’s national security and economic interests in the Arctic region, led by an emerging fleet of heavy icebreakers.” 

Among the provisions important to Alaska, Senator Sullivan’s Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 will:

  • Authorize the Coast Guard to maintain the contract for three heavy Polar Security Cutters (icebreakers) and to award contracts for construction of three more, for a total of six Polar Security Cutters;
  • Authorize $745 for construction of the second heavy Polar Security Cutter;
  • Authorize $650 million for construction of the twelfth National Security Cutter;
  • Authorize $265 million for construction of four Fast Response Cutters;
  • Authorize $335 million, over two years, for shoreside infrastructure;
  • Direct the Coast Guard to prioritize missions and capability development in the Arctic;
  • Streamline the maintenance and repair of Coast Guard vessels in District 17 (Alaska);
  • Direct the Coast Guard to report to Congress on the need for search-and-rescue support for Arctic communities;
  • Provide regulatory certainty for commercial fishing vessels from onerous, unenforced regulations;
  • Provide relief for the Alaska fishing and hunting guide operations from one-size-fits-all regulations that have stymied their ability to hire and train locally;
  • Provide increased federal funds for fishing safety training and research grants;
  • Establishes an Arctic Shipping Federal Advisory Committee to provide policy recommendations on Arctic maritime transportation;
  • Focus on expanding the use of unmanned aircraft systems and providing an emphasis on employing this capability in the Arctic;
  • Increase protections for survivors of sexual assault;
  • Improve measures aimed at recruiting and retaining women in the Coast Guard; and
  • Improve the services offered to family members of Coast Guardsmen, including access to affordable child care, improvements to housing, and review of health care access—especially for those stationed in remote regions.

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