(Washington D.C.)– Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that that the $153.5 million she included to support two major Washington state Coast Guard priorities in the fiscal year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill has been included in the final version of the spending bill. The bill has now been approved by both houses of Congress after passing the Senate today by a vote of 79-19 and will now head to the President who is expected to sign it into law.
The funding will support the completion of the retrofit of the Polar Star icebreaker, which is currently being performed at Todd Shipyards in Seattle. It will also support the building of Coast Guard Response Boats at Kvichak Marine in Kent.
“This funding supports critical Coast Guard projects and provide a shot in the arm for Washington state’s maritime industry at a critical time,” said Senator Patty Murray. “It will allow us to move forward with projects that are in our nation’s interest while supporting good-paying, high-skilled jobs in our region.”
Senator Murray included $32.5 million for the polar icebreaker retrofit in the bill. Last February, Senator Murray announced that Todd Shipyards had been awarded the five year contract to retrofit the Polar Star though a competitive bid process. Steve Welch, CEO of Todd Pacific Shipyards, estimated that the contract will mean sustaining or creating more than 250 jobs in the Puget Sound region. It will also ensure that the United States has the equipment it needs to address new opportunities and challenges in the polar regions. Both the U.S. Navy and Air Force have identified icebreakers as “an essential instrument of U.S. policy” in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Senator Murray also included $121 million for the Response Boat-Medium, built at Kvichak Marine in Kent. This is an $18 million increase over the President’s budget and is a Coast Guard priority. Kvichak Marine has hired about 100 new skilled workers at its Kent facility to build the RB-M. The RB-M will replace the Coast Guard’s old 41 foot utility boats, which have reached the end of their service lives.
Senator Murray is a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.