cg9 banner



Video: Heavy Polar Security Cutter Model Testing Underway

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star completed the third phase of a service life extension program October 18, 2023, in California.

Development of a prototype fabrication module began July 24, 2023, to support future production of the first polar security cutter.

Polar Security Cutter


The Coast Guard is recapitalizing its polar icebreaker fleet to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the country's economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.

The operational polar fleet currently includes one 399-foot heavy icebreaker (Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, commissioned in 1976) and one 420-foot medium icebreaker (Coast Guard Cutter Healy, commissioned in 2000). These cutters are designed for open-water icebreaking and feature reinforced hulls and specially angled bows.

Polar Star underwent a three-year reactivation and returned to operations in late 2013. Since then, Polar Star has completed six Operation Deep Freeze deployments to resupply McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The Polar Star has also completed one rare winter journey to the Arctic. The Polar Star entered into a service life extension project (SLEP) in 2021 to extend the cutter’s service life by four years.

Why this program?

The United States has vital national interests in the polar regions. Polar security cutters (PSCs) enable the U.S. to maintain defense readiness in the Arctic and Antarctic regions; enforce treaties and other laws needed to safeguard both industry and the environment; provide ports, waterways and coastal security; and provide logistical support – including vessel escort – to facilitate the movement of goods and personnel necessary to support scientific research, commerce, national security activities and maritime safety.

How is the Coast Guard addressing the need for more polar icebreaking capability?

The Coast Guard and U.S. Navy, through an integrated program office, on April 23, 2019, awarded VT Halter Marine Inc., of Pascagoula, Mississippi, a fixed price incentive (firm) contract for the detail, design and construction of the lead PSC. Construction on the first PSC is planned to begin in 2022 with contract delivery planned for 2025. The contract includes financial incentives for earlier delivery.

PSC: In the News


Oct. 20, 2023 - Coast Guard completes third phase of Polar Star service life extension program

Aug. 4, 2023 - Prototype work begins on the Coast Guard’s newest heavy polar icebreaker

May 30, 2023 - Coast Guard begins third phase of Polar Star service life extension program


Sept. 1, 2022 - Polar Star arrives at homeport after completion of dock work and sea trials during second phase of service life extension project


Dec. 29, 2021 - Polar Security Cutter Integrated Program Office exercises option for second cutter

Feb. 23, 2021 - Coast Guard awards task order for Polar Star service life extension contract

Jan. 13, 2021 - Coast Guard awards Polar Star service life extension contract


Dec. 18, 2020 - Coast Guard awards polar security cutter communication management system contract

Aug. 7, 2020 - Coast Guard releases request for information for polar landing craft


Sept. 12, 2019 - Coast Guard establishes PSC Project Resident Office

Aug. 8, 2019 - Polar Security Cutter Integrated Program Office recognized as DHS Program of the Year

July 25, 2019 - Coast Guard acquisition excellence on full display at DHS awards ceremony

April 23, 2019 - Acquisition update: Coast Guard and Navy Integrated Program Office awards polar security cutter detail design and construction contract


March 5, 2018 - RFP released for Coast Guard's heavy polar icebreaker

Feb. 22, 2018 - Polar icebreaker acquisition proceeds to next phase


Oct. 19, 2017 - U.S. Navy releases draft request for proposal for Coast Guard icebreaker design, construction

July 26, 2017 - Coast Guard participates in icebreaker model testing demonstration with DHS, National Research Council Of Canada (NRC)

April 4, 2017 - Acquisition update: Coast Guard releases draft polar icebreaker specifications

Feb. 22, 2017 - Acquisition update: Coast Guard awards multiple contracts for heavy polar icebreaker industry studies

Feb. 9, 2017 - Acquisition update: U.S., Canada governments partner on model and test activities to support heavy polar icebreaker acquisition efforts


Dec. 23, 2016 - Acquisition update: Coast Guard requests quotes for heavy polar icebreaker industry studies

Oct. 26, 2016 - Acquisition update: Coast Guard releases request for information for heavy polar icebreaker industry studies

Feb. 9, 2016 - Coast Guard to hold Polar Icebreaker Industry Day March 18


April 20, 2015 - Coast Guard team observes icebreaking technology in Finland


Nov. 20, 2014 - U.S., Canadian Coast Guards exchange polar icebreaker acquisition knowledge

June 20, 2014 - Acquisition update: Polar Icebreaker Acquisition Project approved for next phase


Aug. 16, 2013 - USCG Arctic Strategy Requires More Ice Breakers

April 25, 2013 - Heavy Polar Icebreaker Project makes progress

Feb. 28, 2013 - Coast Guard Heavy Polar Icebreaker Project taking shape