VT Halter Marine has secured a contract worth up to $1.9bn from the US Navy to design and build the US Coast Guard’s next-generation heavy icebreaker.

The detail design and construction (DD&C) contract is for the US Coast Guard’s lead Polar Security Cutter (PSC) and includes an initial award worth $745.9m.

Under the initial award, VT Halter will support engineering and detail design of the PSC class, as well as procurement of long lead-time materials and construction of the first ship.

In addition, the contract comprises options for the construction of two more PSCs.

PSCs will be deployed to perform various coastguard missions, including search-and-rescue, maritime law enforcement, environmental response, and national defence operations.

The coastguard plans to procure six polar icebreakers to meet the mission demands in the Arctic.

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US Coast Guard commandant Admiral Karl Schultz said: “Against the backdrop of great power competition, the PSC is key to our nation’s presence in the polar regions.

"This contract award marks an important step towards building the nation’s full complement of six polar icebreakers to meet the unique mission demands."

“With the strong support of both the Trump Administration and the US Congress, this contract award marks an important step towards building the nation’s full complement of six polar icebreakers to meet the unique mission demands that have emerged from increased commerce, tourism, research, and international activities in the Arctic and Antarctic.”

The contract will help recapitalise the country’s existing fleet of heavy icebreakers in a bid to boost capabilities in the polar regions.

NAVSEA is the lead contracting authority for the acquisition of the PSCs.

VT Halter is expected to start construction on the first PSC in 2021 with delivery scheduled to take place in 2024.

US Navy research, development and acquisition assistant aecretary James Geurts said: “Working with our industry partners, the team identified approximately $300m in cost avoidances and accelerated the schedule for delivery of this capability to the nation by almost three years.”

The company will perform around 61% of the contract work in Pascagoula, Mississippi.