Coast Guard icebreaker departs for Arctic mission

One of the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreakers is heading north in the pursuit of science.

In a release last week, the Coast Guard said the cutter Healy, was leaving Seattle on Tuesday for a four-month deployment to the Arctic Ocean.

The Healy's crew will work on three missions "focusing on the biology, chemistry, geology, and physics of the Arctic Ocean and its ecosystems, as well as (performing) multibeam sonar mapping of the Extended Continental Shelf," the Coast Guard said.

On one of the missions, 46 researchers and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Alaska Anchorage will work with the Healy crew to look at the biological diversity of the Chukchi Sea. They will use the Global Explorer, a remotely operated vehicle, to collect samples and take temperatures and other measurements.

(Crew of Coast Guard icebreaker Healy cruises between Arctic science missions)

Researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Office of Naval Research will use acoustic bottom moorings to collect data on sea ice extent and piece together a picture of what effect changes in ice and the polar climate are having on the marine ecosystem of the Arctic.

Finally, the third project, which is funded by NOAA and backed by the State Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology, will see researchers from the University of New Hampshire using multibeam sonar mapping and bottom dredging in the Bering Sea and Arctic to advance demarcation of the extended continental shelf, wrote the Coast Guard.


This deployment is the Healy's 10th continental shelf cruise. This will also be the eighth time the Coast Guard has worked on this type of mission in coordination with the Canadian Hydrographic Service.

Healy is the newest icebreaker in the U.S. fleet. The oldest is the Polar Star, which recently completed missions in Antarctica. The Healy is a 420-foot cutter with a permanent crew of 87 and is based in Seattle.

This story first appeared in The Arctic Sounder and is republished here with permission.