Coast Guard officials in Seattle, Washington, said Healy’s first mission will be for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to increase understanding of biological processes along Alaska’s Continental Shelf. The second mission, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, will focus on understanding how upper-level ocean stratification and sea ice in the Beaufort Sea is responding to inflow and surface forcing changes.
The goal of the Stratified Ocean Dynamics of the Arctic project is to raise understanding by deploying subsurface moorings and specialized on-ice instruments to observe the fluctuations across an annual cycle.
Healy’s final mission, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, will examine the effects of the Pacific water inflow into the Arctic and its associated boundary current on the ecosystem. This study is part of a multi-year effort that combines shipboard measurements taken in the spring and fall with measurements from a subsea mooring deployed in the center of the boundary current.
Healy is a premiere high-latitude research vessel and one of the only US military surface vessels that deploys to and can operate in the ice-covered waters of the Arctic. In addition to the research mission, the crew of the Healy can also conduct search and rescue operations, ship escorts, environmental protection and enforcement of laws and treaties in the polar regions. Homeported in Seattle, the 420-foot long vessel provides access and presence throughout the Arctic region to protect national maritime borders and to safeguard the maritime economy.