Coast Guard Cutter Healy: Mission Update Aug. 18, 2013

We check in with the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a 420-foot Seattle-based polar icebreaker, as they continue their Arctic West Summer 2013 deployment. Republished with permission from Ensign Rebecca Follmer, a member of the ship’s operations department and public affairs officer aboard Healy.


13-01 scientists embarking on the Nunaniq to leave Healy for Barrow. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Rebecca Follmer.

Hello friends and family!

Welcome back to the blog. I am writing to you as we deploy the first of many jumbo cores, which is one of the primary tools we will use during this phase of the deployment. But as usual, I am getting ahead of myself. When I left off last, we were finishing up the first science mission…

This week has been a blur as the first science party made a mad science dash during their last few days aboard. The crew and the science party worked together to make sure the last of the data the party needed was collected and that all the equipment and samples were packaged and ready to ship by the time we anchored off of Barrow, Alaska. While at anchor, the first science party departed in the morning via the Nunaniq, a 145-foot landing craft. The Nunaniq then returned to the ship to bring supplies and the first group of personnel from the second science party.

Flight Deck Operations

Healy crew on the flight deck positioning to escort 13-02 scientists embarking Healy from the helicopter. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Rebecca Follmer.

The crew shifted gears in the afternoon to conduct flight operations for the arrival of stores and remaining personnel. We worked with a civilian helicopter during the afternoon and the next day to complete all of the transfers. Overall, the science party exchange and the on load of mail, stores, and supplies went extremely well. Bravo Zulu to everyone involved in the planning and execution of the Barrow logistics stop!

The second science mission, designated as 13-02, is a study sponsored by the National Science Foundation in the Beaufort Sea including the Alaskan North Slope, Amundsen Gulf, and possibly M’Clure Strait. The science party is focused on identifying geological evidence of a massive flood near the Mackenzie River that is thought to have occurred about 13,000 years ago and had profound effects on the global climate. The science party will be using sonar to survey the seafloor to identify ideal areas to deploy the Jumbo Piston Core, an apparatus capable of sampling sediment 40 to 80 feet below the surfaceof the ocean floor. Similar to the rings of a tree, the science party will analyze the different layers of sediment to learn about the water composition dating back thousands of years.

Coring Samples

Science party members working with the coring equipment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Rebecca Follmer.

Seven years ago this week a tragic diving accident occurred aboard Healy, two shipmates perished. While conducting a training dive in the Arctic, Lt. Jessica Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Duque died. To honor their memory, 11 tolls of the bell were sounded during quarters. As a crew, we honor their loss by pledging to learn from the past, focus on educating ourselves on the requirements of our jobs, and strive to continually execute our unique mission in the far reaches of the globe without sacrificing safety.

Thank you for reading and for your continued support of the ship and our crew. To read past updates please see earlier blog posts on the Coast Guard Alaska Blog or visit our webpage.

Very respectfully,

Ensign Rebecca Follmer
Public Affairs Officer

Ex Arctic Scientia
“From the Arctic, Knowledge”

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