The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20) returned to their Seattle homeport Saturday following a 22,000-mile, 133-day deployment circumnavigating North America.
The crew aboard Healy, a 420-ft. medium icebreaker, provided U.S. surface presence in the Arctic, supported high-latitude oceanographic research missions, participated in an international search-and-rescue exercise, and engaged in passing exercises with surface vessels from the U.S. Navy, Canadian Navy, and Mexican Navy.
Healy’s crew hosted members of the international science community and institutions from the U.S., Canada, Norway and Denmark who conducted oceanographic research throughout the Arctic including the Northwest Passage and within Baffin Bay to monitor environmental change.
Healy crewmembers also facilitated 430 over-the-side casts of various scientific instruments including a Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) array that requires the cutter to station keep as wire lowers and recovers the instrument from below the surface. Additionally, Healy mapped over 20,000-square kilometers of the seafloor, including 12,000-square kilometers of previously unmapped regions, throughout the patrol.
Healy transited north of Canada via the Northwest Passage, where the crew rendezvoused with members of the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Rangers for a search-and-rescue exercise. The crew transited south of Mexico via the Panama Canal on their way home. Healy’s deployment supported the Coast Guard’s Arctic Strategy while providing critical training opportunities for future icebreaker sailors.
“Healy’s crew demonstrated their tremendous dedication to duty while carrying out the Coast Guard’s Arctic mission, operating in some of the harshest regions in the world,” said Coast Guard Cutter Healy’s Commanding Officer Capt. Kenneth Boda. “They assisted teams of scientists in gathering invaluable data and information throughout the deployment. This research will be shared with laboratories, universities and institutions around the world to support research focused on the changing Arctic environment.”
While transiting down the east coast of the United States and back up the west coast of Mexico, Healy engaged in multiple outreach events including passing exercises, professional exchanges, and embarking distinguished visitors to bolster relations with other nations.
Healy deploys annually to the Arctic in support of oceanographic research and Operation Arctic Shield, the Service’s annual operation to execute U.S. Coast Guard missions, enhance maritime domain awareness, strengthen partnerships, and build preparedness, prevention, and response capabilities across the Arctic domain.
Commissioned in 2000, Healy is one of two active polar icebreakers in the Coast Guard’s fleet. Healy is capable of breaking 4 feet of ice continuously and up to 8 feet of ice while backing and ramming.
The U.S. Coast Guard is recapitalizing its polar icebreaker fleet to ensure continued access to the Polar Regions and protect the country’s economic, commercial, environmental, and national security interests. The Coast Guard and U.S. Navy, through an integrated program office, on April 23, 2019, awarded VT Halter Marine Inc., of Pascagoula, Mississippi, a fixed-price incentive contract for the detail, design and construction of the lead Polar security cutter with contract delivery planned for 2025.