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Coast Guard Cutter Healy returns home from 254-day patrol

SEATTLE — Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the nation’s largest and only operational Polar ice breaker will moor at Pier 36, Coast Guard Base Seattle Sunday at 9 a.m., after completing a 254-day deployment. 

The Healy completed four Arctic science missions during the 2011 field season, as well as an 800-mile Bering Sea ice-escort of the Russian-flagged tanker vessel Renda to Nome, Alaska for a winter fuel delivery by sea.

Healy embarked on the first-ever domestic icebreaking operation in Alaska.  Icebreaking through 800 miles of Bering Sea ice, Healy escorted the Renda to and from Nome, where it safety offloaded 1.3 million gallons of fuel.  Without this delivery, the town of Nome would have run out of its winter fuel reserves by March.

During the Arctic West 2011 deployment, Healy spent seven months underway in the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean for four separate science operations.  Healy’s crew first worked with researchers from NASA to collect and study water and ice samples, looking to learn more about the refractive properties of sunlight in the Arctic environment. 

Following those operations, the Healy crew participated in its fourth year of collaborative research with the Canadian coast guard icebreaker Louis S St. Laurent to map the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.  Using seismic and bathymetric techniques, the two vessels surveyed more than 4,000 nautical miles of Arctic seafloor to include the Nautilus Basin, Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge, and the Extended Continental Shelf. 

During the third mission, Healy serviced hydrographic moorings and conducted ocean-current profiling between Barrow Canyon and M’Clure Strait to study the western Arctic Boundary Current.  The fourth mission was a biology-based mission, studying the behavior of copepods in the winter months, and organic carbon, the principal energy source for oceanic bacteria.  The data retrieved from this mission will be the first contributions of data collected in the Arctic during this time of year. 

Healy was commissioned in 2000, and is the nation’s only operational polar icebreaker.  The cutter is 420-feet long and has extensive scientific capabilities.  Homeported in Seattle, the Healy has a permanent crew of 80; and her primary mission is scientific support. 

For more news about Healy’s ice-escort to Nome, please check: http://www.d17.uscgnews.com/go/doc/780/1295039/

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