As Global Warming Melts the Arctic, Who Will Build America's New Navy?http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/01/18/as-global-warming-melts-the-arctic-who-will-build.aspx Rich Smith
January 18, 2014
The Arctic ice cap is melting. That's just a fact. It's how to deal with this fact that is the real question.
Fortunately, the U.S. Navy has a solution.
This week, The Wall Street Journal described an as-yet-unpublished report by the Navy that lays out the difficulties posed by global warming and what the military branch needs to function in a warmer, wetter world. In a nutshell, the problem is this:
In 2012, global warming at the Earth's North Pole created 1 million square miles more of ice-free water than has been the historic average in the Arctic. Essentially, a body of water four times the size of Texas has become navigable to commercial traffic, mineable by the global oil industry -- and in urgent need of patrolling by the U.S. Navy.
Sailing into hot (cold) water
As recently as the 1980s, the Coast Guard operated a fleet of eight icebreakers in the Arctic. Today, the service is down to just two lonely vessels: The medium icebreaker USCGC Healy, commissioned in 1999, and her even more ancient big sister, the heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star, built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and commissioned in 1976.
That's quite literally it. In contrast, Canada has three times as many icebreakers as we do, while rising Arctic power Russia boasts 25(!) -- of which six are hulking, nuclear-powered, icebreaking beasts. And as the WSJ pointed out, America's Polar Star actually has to pull double duty, patrolling the Arctic in the summer and the Antarctic in winter.
Breaking through the ice
Huntington is also, along with General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), one of the nation's two builders of nuclear-powered submarines -- which as you can see up above, are perfectly capable of projecting power all the way