Arctic Capabilities: Coast Guard Is Taking Steps to Address Key Challenges, but Additional Work Remains
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON DC United States
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The Coast Guarda component of the Department of Homeland Security DHSis a multimission, maritime military service that is responsible for maritime safety and national security, among other missions. Given the Arctic regions expansive maritime domain, the Coast Guard plays a significant role in Arctic policy implementation and enforcement. The Coast Guard is also the sole provider and operator of the U.S. polar icebreaking fleeta critical component in ensuring year-round access to the Arctic. The Coast Guard is developing the first of three heavy polar icebreakersthe Polar Security Cutterit has acquired in over 40 years. This statement addresses 1 the Coast Guards assessment of capability gaps in the region, and 2 key risks facing the Polar Security Cutter acquisition. This statement is primarily based on GAOs June 2016 report examining capability gaps in the Arctic and its September 2018 report examining the Coast Guards polar icebreaker acquisition. What GAO Recommends In June 2016, GAO recommended, among other things, that Coast Guard develop measures for assessing how its actions have helped to mitigate Arctic capability gaps. In September 2018, GAO recommended that the Polar Security Cutter program develop a program schedule according to best practices. DHS concurred with all of the recommendations, and the Coast Guard is in the process of addressing them.
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