Coast Guard Cutter Healy to arrive in Dutch Harbor

DUTCH HARBOR, Alaska – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, based in Seattle, Wash., is scheduled to arrive here Tuesday to offload supplies and personnel before transiting home after compleating the second phase of the Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST).

BEST is a multi-year project sponsored by the National Science Foundation that studies the ecological effects of retreating sea ice throughout the Bering Sea.

The recent decline in the extent and duration of arctic sea ice has stimulated scientific and public interest, in how the productive Bering Sea ecosystem will be affected if the current climate trends continue.

The BEST research group conducted studies on how marine plants and animals, including microorganisms, fish, marine mammals, birds, and local human communities, will be affected by the changes in the region.

Dr. Carin Ashjian, the BEST research coordinater, explained that work at the ice edge was focused on improving the ecological understanding of the Bering Sea.

Healy is designed to conduct a wide range of research activities, providing more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches, and accommodations for up to 50 scientists.

Healy is capable of breaking through four and a half feet of ice at a steady speed of three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as minus 50 F.

Healy substantially enhances the United States Arctic research capability at a time when scientific interest in the Arctic Ocean basin is intensifying,

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