September 1, 2015

DISPATCHES FROM ICE STATION BARRY:

As the United States and Russia eye new shipping routes in the melting Arctic, political and military leaders in Washington are pointing to a crucial gap in the one type of vessel that can turn frozen waters into reliable lanes for commerce or national defense.

Icebreakers — the ships that smash through sea ice, opening routes for other craft and rescuing trapped vessels — are increasingly important to navigating in the far north. Russia has 40 of them, including nuclear-powered craft painted an intimidating red and black.

Meanwhile, the U.S. icebreaker fleet? Two.

But hey, we finally got that old dead white guy’s name off of an Alaskan mountain. Priorities, people — priorities!

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