Coast Guard uses teamwork to overcome distance

Equipment air drop to cutter Healy from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules crew north of Barrow

ARCTIC OCEAN - Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Smith, right, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jared Morrison, both HC-130 Hercules airplane crewmen with Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, prepare a canister with equipment to be dropped to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Canadian coast guard ship Louis S. St. Laurent near the North Pole Sept. 7, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a 420-foot icebreaker homeported out of Seattle, received a critical parts delivery Wednesday thanks to the efforts of the personnel at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak.

“CG-1709 was right on time at our location more than 900 miles north of Pt. Barrow and easily dropped all three pump cans in a tight cluster that our ice rescue personnel were able to reach quickly,” said Capt. Beverly Havlik, commanding officer of Healy.

The aircrew staged in Fairbanks Tuesday due to the distance they had to cover and the safety limitations placed on the aircrew in terms of hours on the job per day. They flew more than 1,000 miles further north Wednesday to conduct the drop of the canisters. Using parachutes and trail lines the aircrew safely dropped the canisters to areas of thick ice to be retrieved by Healy personnel. The crew flew to Anchorage for the night and returned to their home base in Kodiak Thursday. They covered a total of 3,968 miles roundtrip.

The parts were critical to ensure Healy could operate at full efficiency and maximize their icebreaking capability. Healy is designed to break more than four feet of ice continuously at three mph and can operate in temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero.

“We greatly appreciate Air Station Kodiak’s coordination and execution of the successful air drop of parts today, critical to both Healy and Louis S. St. Laurent in completion of the 2011 joint extended continental shelf mission,” said Havlik.

The Healy crew and science teams are currently working jointly with the crew of the Canadian coast guard ship Louis S. St. Laurent to conduct bathymetric mapping of the continental margin north of Barrow. The Louis S. St. Laurent is a 393-foot heavy icebreaker homeported in St. John’s, New Foundland.

Healy’s 2011 missions are expected to last through most of December. Still ahead – more extended continental shelf mapping, deploying several types of hydrographic moorings, as well as recovering hydrographic moorings deployed on earlier missions and finally a biology-based mission, studying the behavior of copepods in the winter months.

Healy has 80 permanent crewmembers and a primary mission of scientific support.  The Healy is designed to conduct a wide range of research activities by providing more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches and accommodations for up to 50 scientists.  At a time when scientific interest in the Arctic Ocean basin is intensifying the cutter substantially enhances the United States Arctic research capability.

More on the Healy’s science missions can be found here. For updates about the crew and their activities click here. Additional imagery from the equipment air drop can be found in the imagery release at www.uscgalaska.com.

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