U.S. Coast Guard Looking to Acquire Commercial Icebreaker ‘Aiviq’

By Malte Humpert.

U.S. Coast Guard notice reveals the service is seeking to acquire the icebreaker Aiviq from a unit of Edison Chouest Offshore to help plug icebreaking capability gaps

In a new public notice, the U.S. Coast Guard disclosed it intends to solicit a firm-fixed-price contract from Offshore Service Vessels LLC to acquire an existing “domestically produced, commercially available icebreaker” from the company.

Offshore Service Vessels, part of Edison Chouest Offshore, is the registered owner of American-made icebreaking offshore supply vessel M/V Aiviq, the only commercially-available vessel to meet previously specified criteria.

In its 2023 Arctic Strategic Outlook Implementation Plan the USCG discussed a plan to potentially procure a commercially-available icebreaker to expand its polar capabilities in the near-term. The service’s upcoming icebreaking Polar Security Cutter, produced by Bollinger Mississippi Shipbuilding, faces ongoing delays with a service entry now likely pushed back to 2028 at the earliest.

The Coast Guard’s options for a stop-gap measure are extremely limited, especially given the need for the vessel to be American-made.

“Offshore Service Vessels is the only company that can meet USCG needs,” the notice reads.

Aiviq, a 360-foot Arctic ice class anchor handler, was built by Edison Chouest Offshore and originally chartered for Shell’s 2012 oil exploration efforts in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska. Late that year, the Aiviq was towing the Kulluk drilling rig from Alaska to Washington when the rig broke free and ran aground on a remote island near Kodiak. The incident, along with other factors, ultimately led to Shell abandoning the drilling campaign. Most recently the Aiviq has been in the service of the Australian Antarctic program during the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.

Discussions about the Coast Guard acquiring the vessel to supplement its own icebreakers Polar Star and Healy have been ongoing since at least 2015.

read more at gcaptain.com.