Is Trump’s proposal to build three new icebreakers too expensive?

Icebreakers costing more than $7 billion are “a significant risk to the U.S.’ ability to meet future maritime requirements” in Alaska, the chief of Naval Operations’ Fleet Forces, Adm. John Richardson, said this week.

The Navy plans to spend $5.6 billion to buy three new icebreakers in the coming years, but Richardson told reporters that cost has since ballooned to more than $7 billion and a schedule that he deemed “risky.”

“It’s my judgment that we’re now about to be on a growth curve that moves us far beyond a realistic figure,” Richardson said this week at the Pentagon. “We have an order for $2.9 billion” for three icebreakers, in line with President Donald Trump’s budget request in March. The money, however, was $845 million less than what Richardson told Congress the new ships would cost in March.

A Washington Post analysis found that the “‘actual’ price for the program ballooned to an estimate of more than $7 billion, up by more than $2 billion from an estimate provided to lawmakers by the U.S. Navy last month.” Richardson said that the latest estimate of $7.25 billion was based on the need to keep working on the heavy icebreaker for an additional four years.

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