FAIRBANKS, Alaska— A spending bill approved by Congress that kept the federal government open included a project dear to the Alaska congressional delegation: a new polar icebreaker.
The spending bill includes $655 million for designing and building the icebreaker for the Coast Guard, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The bill includes $20 million for materials to eventually build a second icebreaker and $740 million for new cutters, including six to be based in Alaska.
The measure also provides $53 million for cutter support facilities in the state, with $22 million for Kodiak and $31 million to Seward.
The Healy's crew completed three science missions, conducting physical and biological research in the Arctic Ocean with the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of Naval Research.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, called the bill a significant step in the right direction toward an icebreaker fleet.
"I have been pushing to fully fund the acquisition of a fleet of Arctic-capable icebreakers — because of the importance of this vessel for the safety and security of the Arctic region and for our national security as a whole," Murkowski said in a statement.
She called it a huge victory in her long fight to help fulfill America’s responsibilities as an Arctic nation.
Her GOP colleague in Alaska, Sen. Dan Sullivan, also praised the funding.
"Congress and the Trump administration are acknowledging that Alaska is America's Arctic, a fact that is important to our broader national security interests," he said in a statement.
Congress passed the bill on Feb. 14 and President Trump signed it into law, securing government funding through Sept. 30.