Cutter Healy in Seward Preparing for 2nd Leg of Arctic Scientific Mission

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/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/CGC Healy

The Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Healy is moored in the port of Seward this week after completing the first in what is to be a three-part science mission in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. 

46 researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Alaska-Anchorage are disembarking after 39 days at sea.

Taking their place, will be an new set of researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, U.C. San Diego and the Office of Naval Research. With the help of the Healy’s crew, these researchers will be deploying acoustic bottom moorings. Once deployed, researchers will receive data from these moorings on the effects on the Arctic Ocean from climate change and decreased ice coverage. The Healy will cast off for this next portion of the Arctic mission on August 16th.

Ensign Brian P. Hagerty of the Healy reported that the first mission yielded the “discovery of multiple new species of jellyfish in the Chukchi Borderlands,” and the “discovery of an entirely new genetic order of benthic ctenophore and documenting a new reproductive behavior of comb jellyfish.”

Ensign Hagerty went on to say, the “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,” as well as further sampling gear that 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.”

While in port, seven Junior Officers from the Healy are training in ice navigation in a course at the AVTEC-Alaska Institute of Technology. The course, among other things, focuses on mission critical ice navigation topics such as being beset in ice, backing and ramming, entering ice, and route finding. The class will use AVTEC’s Kongsberg Full Mission Bridge Simulator for most of the training.

The Healy will be open for free public tours Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults must accompany and supervise children and no pets are allowed aboard the cutter.