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Seattle port could play key role in race to rule the Arctic

Published on May 17, 2019

Port of Seattle and Mount Rainier.
Port of Seattle and Mount Rainier. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Photo by SounderBruce

In the 1890s, Seattle was the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush. As countries eye the warming Arctic in a 21st century rush to establish maritime trade routes and exploit natural resources, Puget Sound is once again poised to serve a vital support role.

That, at least, is the vision that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, put forth as she proudly announced the commission of a new heavy icebreaker, the first commissioned in 40 years. The ship will complement the U.S. Coast Guard’s existing polar vessels, both of which are based at the Port of Seattle.

For over a year, Adm. Karl L. Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, has been publicly calling for the U.S. to adopt a “6-3-1” approach: build six new icebreakers, three of them heavy, and one right now.

Scott Montgomery, a lecturer at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies (which offers an Arctic Studies program), studies the intersection of energy, security, and geopolitics.

“I would bet the three heavy icebreakers will be built because the U.S. is so far behind the curve,” he told Crosscut. “That would put the U.S. on the map and Congress does see that as important.”

Continue reading at Crosscut.

Originally written by Gregory Scruggs for Crosscut.
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