Coast Guard crew returns to Seattle following 130 day annual Arctic science deployment

Petty Officer 1st Class Megan Spellman and Petty Officer 3rd Class Danielle Stevens, both machinery technicians aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, monitor the icebreaker's engines during watch while underway in Alaska, Aug. 26, 2014. Female crew members aboard the Healy celebrated Women's Equality Day by coordinating all-female watch sections for both the engine room and bridge of the cutter. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.)

Petty Officer 1st Class Megan Spellman and Petty Officer 3rd Class Danielle Stevens, both machinery technicians aboard the Healy, monitor the icebreaker’s engines during watch while underway in Alaska, Aug. 26, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

Story by Coast Guard Pacific Northwest Staff

After completing 130 days of operations in the Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Arctic Ocean, the Coast Guard Cutter Healy moored in Seattle Sept. 11, 2014.

During those four months, Healy’s crew and science team conducted three missions to further scientific knowledge and understanding of the Arctic.

The first mission, the Study of Under Ice Blooms in the Chukchi Ecosystem, was led by Stanford University personnel with funding from the National Science Foundation. This mission utilized a variety of tools and equipment to investigate, sample and collect information. Scientists worked with a conductivity, temperature and depth rosette, plankton and zooplankton nets, vanveen grabs, a light-frame onsite keyspecies investigative imaging device, a trace metal detection FISH that was towed alongside the ship, a trace metal pump and weather balloons. The compilation of each of these individual components enabled a vast amount of scientific data about the Chukchi ecosystem to be woven together for education and understanding of ongoing biological, physical, and chemical oceanographic and other related trends in the Arctic. Throughout this phase Healy’s crew completed 230 science station evolutions in which the ship stopped to conduct operations, including 14 on-ice deployments.

A smallboat crew from the Coast Guard Cutter Healy retrieves a Wave Glider Unmanned Surface Vehicle during an oil in ice spill exercise in the Arctic, Aug. 21, 2014. The Coast Guard Research and Development Center, based in New London, Conn., and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command deployed the USV to evaluate its capabilities in icy waters. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

A smallboat crew from the Coast Guard Cutter Healy retrieves a Wave Glider Unmanned Surface Vehicle during an oil in ice spill exercise in the Arctic, Aug. 21, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

The second scientific mission of the summer was completed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists who were studying the Pacific Boundary Current and other oceanographic trends in the Arctic. The study of these currents and data collection was captured utilizing sub-surface oceanographic moorings. The moorings remain onsite for one to two years and capture a year-long dataset of what is occurring on the continental shelf off the north coast of Alaska. The information collected by the moorings, along with data captured by 156 CTD rosette casts, allow for the continuation of research that has been supported by Healy over the last 10 years.

The third and final science pursuit of the summer was accomplished with a team from the Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center. Members from the center brought technologies and equipment to be utilized for oil spill monitoring in the harsh Arctic environment. Tools used to complete mission objectives and testing evaluation consisted of several remotely operated vehicles, a few small unmanned aerial systems, an autonomous underwater vehicle, an unmanned surface vehicle, surface wave instrument float with tracking buoys, oil spill tracking buoys, and an aerostat balloon. Other smaller materials and projects were evaluated for use by the Coast Guard in the Arctic, and all of these tests together yielded a greater understanding of tools to available to respond to an oil spill should an accident occur in the ice at extreme northern latitudes.

Coast Guard Cutter Healy crewmembers make contact with a mariner aboard his 36-foot sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska, July 12, 2014. Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders in Juneau were contacted by North Slope Borough Search and Rescue that a man, sailing his sailboat from Vancouver, Canada, to eastern Canada via the Northwest Passage, needed assistance after his vessel had become trapped in the ice. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Healy)

Coast Guard Cutter Healy crewmembers make contact with a mariner aboard his 36-foot sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska, July 12, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Healy.

The Healy’s crew also rescued a man aboard a 36-foot sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska, July 12, 2014. Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders in Juneau were contacted by North Slope Borough Search and Rescue that a man, sailing his sailboat from Vancouver, Canada, to eastern Canada via the Northwest Passage, needed assistance after his vessel had become trapped in the ice.

Healy, delivered in 1999, is the nation’s newest and largest U.S. high latitude icebreaker. The cutter is 420-feet long and has extensive scientific capabilities. Based out of Seattle, the cutter has a permanent crew of 87; its primary mission is scientific support. In addition, as a Coast Guard cutter, Healy is capable of other operations such as search and rescue, ship escorts, environmental protection, and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar Regions.

For more information about Healy, please visit:

http://www.uscg.mil/pacarea/cgchealy

http://www.icefloe.net

http://arcticspring.org

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