US President Barack Obama on Tuesday was set to call for more substantial sums to be invested in increasing the number of heavy icebreakers for the US Coast Guard (USCG) and speeding up the construction of ones already on the way, according to various news sources.
At present the USCG has only two working icebreakers. Regional rival Russia has more than 40. Heavy icebreakers are expensive items, coming in at around $1 billion each.
A White House statement referred to the need for the US to be able to keep sea lanes open for commercial shipping, scientific research and search and rescue purposes.
There are also believed to be strategic reasons for concern as Russia is perceived as having territorial designs on potentially fuel-rich parts of the Arctic.
Obama is in the middle of a three-day visit to Alaska in which he has also highlighted concerns about the effects of climate change on the Arctic, as well as coming in for criticism from both sides in the offshore oil drilling debate.