Coast Guard cutter Healy to depart for Arctic West Deployment

SEATTLE – The Coast Guard cutter Healy is scheduled to depart its homeport here Wednesday for the three-month Arctic West 2009 deployment.

The Deployment supports the ongoing Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST). BEST is a multi-year project sponsored by the National Science Foundation that studies the ecological processes of sea ice as it retreats through the Bering Sea. Scientists on Healy will study how marine microorganisms, plants, animals and local human communities will be affected by the ongoing changes in the region. This mission will use different sampling strategies and focus on a common goal of improving ecological understanding of the Bering Sea. The joint chief scientists, Dr. Lee Cooper of the University of Maryland and Dr. Carin Ashjian of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, coordinated the BEST mission last year and will be aboard again this year.

Healy is the largest of the nation’s three heavy icebreakers and possesses extensive scientific capabilities. The 420-foot cutter was commissioned in 2000 and has a permanent crew of 80. Scientific support is the primary mission, but Healy is capable of supporting all other Coast Guard missions in the Polar Regions.

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