National Science Foundation:

Need for Additional Icebreaking Research Vessel Not Demonstrated

RCED-95-77: Published: May 12, 1995. Publicly Released: May 12, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the justification for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) proposed procurement of an icebreaking research vessel.

GAO found that: (1) NSF and the scientific community have not demonstrated an increase in icebreaker requirements since 1990 to sufficiently justify a fifth icebreaker vessel; (2) the three icebreakers currently in operation are underutilized and no research cruises in the Arctic region are planned for 1995 or 1996; (3) a fourth icebreaker is being built for the Coast Guard to serve as an Arctic research vessel; and (4) many Arctic scientists justify the acquisition of the proposed vessel on the grounds that the Coast Guard is unwilling and unable to provide reliable support to Arctic research activities, although the Coast Guard's commitment to Arctic research has recently improved.

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