Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew returns from Arctic for Thanksgiving

Fireman Nichole Vepeda throws a line over the side of Coast Guard Cutter Healy as it moors to the pier at Coast Guard Base Seattle, November 21, 2017. Healy crew is excited to return home before Thanksgiving after a five-month science research deployment to the Arctic. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Kelley.

Fireman Nichole Vepeda throws a line over the side of Coast Guard Cutter Healy as it moors to the pier at Coast Guard Base Seattle, November 21, 2017.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Kelley.

SEATTLE — Coast Guard Cutter Healy and its 87 crew returned home to Seattle Tuesday in time for Thanksgiving following a 147 day deployment conducting science operations during four diverse missions in the Arctic Ocean.

Healy’s first mission with the Coast Guard Research and Development Center tested new technologies in the harsh Arctic environment. Healy tested two unmanned vehicles and a new oil skimmer to operate while in the ice. Healy also conducted joint operations with the U.S. Navy to reintroduce Arctic shipboard diving capabilities to the Coast Guard for the first time since 2006. Healy’s crew also helped locate the wreckage of F/V Destination, which sank February. 11.

The second mission this summer was in partnership with NOAA and in support of the Distributed Biological Survey and the Northern Chukchi Integrated Study. The study focused on “biological hotspots” along Alaska’s Northeast continental shelf over a several year period. Over the course of the mission, Healy completed 476 casting operations during a period of 24-hour science.

During Healy’s final two missions of the summer, the crew worked with teams from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute, the University of Delaware, and the University of Texas in support of the Canada Basin Acoustic Propagation Experiment. The first of the two missions focused on the deeper waters of the Canada Basin, while the last mission focused in shallower waters. Healy recovered seven deep-water moorings and 22 shallow-water moorings, conducted several bathymetric surveys, and completed 80 continuous hours of oceanography analysis along the Chukchi slope.

Currently under the command of Capt. Greg Tlapa, Healy is the nation’s premiere high-latitude research vessel and is the only U.S. military surface asset that deploys to and is capable of operating in the ice covered waters of the Arctic. In addition to science operations, Healy is capable of conducting a range of Coast Guard operations such as search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar Regions. Healy provides access and presence throughout the Arctic region to protect U.S. maritime borders and safeguard the maritime economy. Based out of Seattle, Healy is the largest ship in the Coast Guard with a displacement of 16,000 tons.

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