Healy metamorphosis

A ribbon of snow and new ice – a sign of approaching winter. Photo by John Farrell.

A ribbon of snow and new ice – a sign of approaching winter. Photo by John Farrell.

Hello again friends and family,

This week’s theme was metamorphosis. Quite suddenly, the signs of approaching winter are all around us. Within one week, we went from nearly 24 hours of day to almost 10 hours of night. Grey fingers of new ice now extend between thicker pieces of blue multi-year ice, joining them together into a single floe. Open water is becoming scarce as we travel north and south through this dynamic area, with front row seats to the freezing of the Arctic. As ice forms, the water takes on a greasy appearance, dampening out ripples and waves. As the ice develops, the surface becomes peppered with small white spheres that grow outward along the surface until they interconnect into a solid sheet of grey ice. With continued exposure to freezing temperatures, the ice thickens downward and turns white in color. So far we’ve only seen the grease and grey ice stages, but as the temperature continues to drop it’s only a matter of time.

One of the goals for this leg of the deployment was to identify an ice floe thick and stable enough to deploy personnel onto the ice. Both science party and crew examined satellite images and searched visibly for an area that would permit an “on ice” deployment and liberty. Unfortunately, the seasonal ice melt in Healy’s vicinity prevented this favorite crew evolution.

Sticking with the metamorphosis theme, we also conducted two deepwater CTD casts last week. Along with the rosette of sampling bottles and numerous sensors, the crew attached bags filled with decorated Styrofoam cups to make the trip to the bottom of the Nautilus Basin. At 3,000 meters deep or 1.8 miles, the pressure is 300 times what we feel at the sea level. A large percentage of Styrofoam is air, and being moderately incompressible, it is squeezed out of the foam by the immense pressure of the water at depth. When the cups return to the surface, they are compressed to less than one-half of their original size. These unique cups are a favorite keepsake of the crew and serve as a vivid illustration of the physical properties of the sea.

Host Fireman Tyyler McNeace welcomes contestant Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Bondurant to the Hot Seat.

Host Fireman Tyyler McNeace welcomes contestant Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique Bondurant to the Hot Seat.

Last Saturday, the morale committee hosted “Who Wants To Be A Healionaire?” A spin off of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in the hangar. All those who entered received a raffle ticket and participants were randomly drawn from the crowd. Host, Fireman Tyyler McNeace, grilled those in the hot seat with a series of nine questions and a tempting set of prizes. Contestants could use three lifelines, including phone-a-watchstander, through the use of a speakerphone installed in the hangar for the game. Unsuspecting crew were frequently called into action to offer critical assistance to their shipmates in need. Congrats to Petty Officer 3rd Class Sam Osburn for being the only contestant to make it through the entire set of questions and walk away with the grand prize.

On Tuesday afternoon, Healy crew met in the lounges and on the messdeck to continue a new initiative – the Underway Leadership Development Program. Hosted by the chief’s mess, the crew meets every week to read and discuss the Coast Guard leadership competencies. The initiative has been successful in sparking some good conversations with take-away applicability. Leadership Tuesdays – Developing leaders, 30 minutes at a time.

A polar bear on multiyear ice welcomes the newly indoctrinated Blue Noses. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Paul Swisher.

A polar bear on multi-year ice welcomes the newly indoctrinated Blue Noses. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Paul Swisher.

Perhaps the most memorable metamorphosis this week was transformation of pollywogs, those who have never sailed in the Arctic, into Blue-Nosed Polar Bears. Through a series of events that spanned the entire week, the crew built camaraderie through shared experience and honored those who have come before by carrying on the spirit of the ceremony. By Saturday morning, there were 53 newly indoctrinated Polar Bears among the crew and scientists. The event was a monumental group effort that took many hours of hard work and creative effort. Special thanks to Chief Petty officer Marcus Lippman for spearheading the charge! New Papa Bravos, it is up to you to keep the tradition alive for future Arctic sailors. And in seeming recognition of their new comrades, two actual polar bears were sighted on Saturday shortly after events concluded. A fitting end to the week.

‘Til next time, thanks for tuning in.

Very respectfully,
Ensign Erin Sheridan
Public Affairs Officer
USCGC HEALY (WAGB-20)

“From the Arctic, Knowledge”
To red more Healy updates please visit their website here.

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