Coast Guard Cutter Healy Visits Juneau

JUNEAU, Alaska – The nation’s largest icebreaker, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, commanded by Capt. Ted Lindström, arrived in Juneau today.

Healy is near the end of the Arctic West Summer 2007 Deployment that began when Healy departed Seattle on April 3rd. Since April, Healy has traveled over 24,000 nautical miles and conducted over 2,000 individual science evolutions. The deployment consisted of three missions: year one of the Bering Ecosystem Study, year two of Climate Driven Changes in Impacts of Benthic Predators in the Northern Bering Sea, and the third in a series of sea floor mapping expeditions to the Chukchi Cap in the Arctic Ocean. Healy spent a six weeks between the second and third missions in Seattle conducting scheduled maintenance and training.

Healy is the newest and largest of the nation’s three heavy icebreakers and the only one with extensive scientific capabilities. The 420-foot cutter was commissioned in 2000, and has a permanent crew of 80. Scientific support is its primary mission, but as a Coast Guard Cutter, Healy is also a capable platform for supporting other potential missions in the Polar Regions, including logistics, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection, and the enforcement of laws and treaties.

Many people have begun to speculate what will happen in the Arctic if the less ice leads to more shipping and human activity in the region. When speaking of the future, Admiral Thad Allen, the current Commandant of the Coast Guard, has said that “Icebreakers will have an important role to play.”

On September 26th Healy will depart Juneau and proceed to its homeport of Seattle, where it will conduct scheduled maintenance and training in preparation for the next scientific deployment, which will begin in early 2008. The deployment being planned for Healy is similar to the one just completed; it will focus on studying the consequences of warming trends in the Bering Sea and more survey work in the vicinity of the Chukchi Cap.

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