Cutter Healy to arrive in Seward Wednesday following 39 days of scientific research in the West Arctic

Coast Guard icebreaker Cutter Healy perches next to a shallow melt pond on the ice in the Chukchi Sea, north, of the Arctic Circle July 20, 2016. During Cutter Healy’s first of three missions during their West Arctic Summer Deployment, a team of 46 researchers from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) studied the Chukchi Sea ecosystem. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Brian P. Hagerty/CGC Healy

Coast Guard icebreaker Cutter Healy perches next to a shallow melt pond on the ice in the Chukchi Sea, north, of the Arctic Circle July 20, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Brian P. Hagerty

Seward, Alaska — Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Healy will moor in Seward Wednesday to disembark 46 researchers from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after 39 days completing of the first of three missions working on groundbreaking science in the Arctic Chukchi Sea.

Logistics for the port call will include swap out of science teams and equipment. The new researchers are arriving from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, U.C. San Diego and the Office of Naval Research.

Outfitted for oceanographic research, Cutter Healy’s first mission yielded the following findings:

  • Discovery of multiple new species of jellyfish in the Chukchi Borderlands
  • Discovery of an entirely new genetic order of benthic ctenophore and documenting a new reproductive behavior of comb jellyfish
  • Cutter Healy’s crew worked with the science party to deploy the Global Explorer ROV (remotely operated vehicle) to successfully collect hundreds of living specimens for laboratory study
  • Other sampling gear enabled the scientists to assess the biological diversity of the entire ecosystem, from creatures living beneath the sea floor to microbial communities in sea ice. The new technology identified and documented the findings to help improve knowledge and understanding of this rapidly changing region

Cutter Healy will be open for free public tours Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults must accompany and supervise children.  No pets are allowed aboard the cutter. Closed-toed shoes are recommended.

Cutter Healy is scheduled to depart for its second Arctic mission Tuesday, Aug. 11.  The Coast Guard crew will help the science team deploy an array of acoustic bottom moorings to collect data on how climate change and decreased ice coverage is affecting the Arctic Ocean.

The third and final mission scheduled for mid-September is funded by NOAA in support of the State Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology. Researchers from the University of New Hampshire will use multi-beam sonar mapping and bottom dredging in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean to further support the demarcation of the Extended Continental Shelf to support the United States’ territorial claims in the Arctic.

Capt. Jason Hamilton is the commanding officer of the Seattle-based Cutter Healy which is the nation’s premiere high-latitude research vessel. The cutter is a 420-foot long icebreaker with extensive scientific capabilities and has a permanent crew of 87. Its primary mission is scientific support and is capable of other missions such as search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection, and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar Regions.

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