Senators call for building icebreakers

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — U.S. senators from Alaska and Washington are renewing their call for additional heavy icebreakers.

The Anchorage Daily News reports Alaska Democrat Mark Begich and Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell this week introduced language in a defense spending bill to authorize construction of four polar icebreakers.

Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and Washington Democrat Patty Murray co-sponsored the item.

It directs the Navy to build up to four heavy icebreakers and transfer them to the Coast Guard for polar missions.

Each would cost about $860 million.

The ships can open shipping channels in ice.

Murkowski says in a prepared statement that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement last week that the military will be heavily involved in the Arctic means more icebreakers are needed.

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