Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy Crew Undertakes Months Long Research Mission

Coast Guard Cutter Healy
The Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB-20), a polar-class ice breaker, transits Southeast Alaskan waters Nov. 24, 2018. The Healy is one of two ice breakers in U.S. service. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Kellen Browne.

High latitude research, professional exchanges with foreign navies and patrols and a visible U.S. surface presence in the Arctic are among the mandates for the Coast Guard Cutter Healy on its Arctic deployment and circumnavigation of North America.

The crew aboard the 420-foot medium icebreaker, which departed Seattle on July 10, is also conducting other operations as directed throughout its months long journey.

“Healy’s deployment provides opportunities to deepen the Coast Guard’s cooperation and commitment with our Arctic allies and partners and to support scientific exploration to increase understanding of the changing Arctic environment and associated impacts,” Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander Vice Adm. Michael McAllister explained.

The Healy is scheduled to circumnavigate North America via the Northwest Passage and the Panama Canal in support of the Coast Guard’s arctic strategy while providing training opportunities for sailors and future operations in the Arctic.

The Healy deploys annually to the Arctic for multiple science missions and Operation Arctic Shield, the Coast Guard’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.

The Healy, commissioners in 1999, is one of two active polar icebreakers in the Coast Guard’s fleet. The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, commissioned in 1976, is a heavy polar icebreaker.

The newest polar icebreaker, the Polar Security Cutter (PSC) is still in the design phase. The first Polar Security Cutter is slated for delivery in 2024.