Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Re-industrialization is a National Imperative

It is amazing that our nation - one so reliant on ocean trade and whose energy security is so reliant on the arctic - should have such a quote about it as below.

This came out in February...but came up in my digging around on a related topic.

The nation's first sea-going heavy icebreaker in more than 45 years will be named Sentinel -- a nod to its predecessors as well as future missions in the polar regions, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said Thursday.

We have been at peace at sea for so long, unchallenged for so long, I think we have forgotten what is needed to fight a sustained war at sea. 

Ships cannot be built overnight. Industrial capacity can take years to build and once lost may takes decades to have capacity at scale. The intellectual capital from welders to designers take generations to build and must be maintained or you will re-baseline yourself to almost zero.

As we've covered before, it isn't just new construction, it is maintenance as well. For decades we have let the accountants bleed our industry pale to bare subsistence. 

The service is in the midst of its largest ship recapitalization effort in decades, replacing its medium endurance cutters with 25 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters and planning to build three medium icebreakers, known as Arctic Security Cutters.

In the past decade, it has commissioned nine of 11 planned National Security Cutters and built dozens of Fast Response Cutters.

It also plans to build a variety of ships known as Waterways Commerce Cutters.

Schultz said that despite the delay in delivery of the Sentinel, the service will have no gaps in its ability to provide support in the polar regions and plans to keep the Polar Star running for several years after delivery of the first Polar Security Cutter.

Polar Star, he said, may be "tired and old," but "we'll keep it a couple of years" until delivery of the second heavy icebreaker because "quite frankly, we need the capacity."

We need to establish a slightly less efficient - but infinitely more effective and geographically diverse - maritime industrial infrastructure. 

Remember, nothing is more expensive than losing a war or surrendering your lines of communication to domination by a hostile power.

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