A crew of 84 people aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy have embarked on a five-month deployment in support of the Office of Naval Research’s science mission across the Arctic.
On board with the crew are a team of international scientists there to recover and redeploy oceanographic instruments as part of the Nansen and Amundsen Basin Observational System (NABOS). The instruments have been collecting Arctic date for over two decades, contributing to an international body of knowledge through the U.S. National science Foundation’s Arctic Observing Network.
The Healy, commissioned in 1999, is the larger and more technologically advanced of the Coast Guard’s two icebreakers.
So far in August, during the first month of its deployment, the Healy was reported to be maintaining position alongside an ice floe about 77 degrees north, working in cooperation with the Office of Naval Research to offload a diverse amount of equipment onto the floe. The mandate was to install two major instruments: the Waves, Weather, Ice, Mass, Balance and Ocean (WIMBO) device, a massive weather buoy destined to remain at sea; and a Dynamic Ocean Topography device, collecting sea surface data.
Science instruments like the WIMBO are components of a greater project, the Arctic Mobile Observing System (AMOS), a network of robotic oceanographic instruments making years-long autonomous observations of ocean and sea ice physics.
The science party, led by Craig Lee of the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, is comprised of leaders in the field of oceanographic science. Lee said that the AMOS program focuses on developing technologies for making continuous long-term scientific observations of the Arctic marine environment.
The Healy is the Coast Guard’s only icebreaker designed for Arctic research, as well as the nation’s sole surface presence routinely operating in the Arctic Ocean.