Coast Guard Cutter Healy Mission Update: Sept. 15

We check in again 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.

Hello friends and family!

Capt. John Reeves, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Healy, awards Chief Petty Officer Douglas Banker his Master Cutterman deignation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Rebecca Follmer.

Capt. John Reeves, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Healy, awards Chief Petty Officer Douglas Banker his Master Cutterman deignation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Rebecca Follmer.

After a very long time above the Arctic Circle, we are heading south toward our next port call, Seward, Alaska, for our mid-patrol break. Just in case you forgot, the last time we were on dry land was in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, when we brought the first science mission party aboard. Speaking of our mid-patrol break, the official halfway point of this patrol was this past Monday, Sept. 9. Just two more months to go!

Chief Petty Officer Douglas Banker, a food service specialist, earned his Master Cutterman designation this week. A Master Cutterman has served for 20 years or more afloat. To say it another way, during his career Banker has been at sea longer than several of the newer crewmembers have been alive. Bravo Zulu!

Skimmer deployed from the starboard quarter. U.S. Coast Guard photo by NOAA PUMA UAS.

Skimmer deployed from the starboard quarter. U.S. Coast Guard photo by NOAA PUMA UAS.

This week also marked the anniversary of Sept. 11. On Wednesday, the crew observed a minute of silence in honor of the men and women who lost their lives on that fateful day 12 years ago. We have not forgotten.

On the science side of things, this week was a whirlwind of activity and equipment. After embarking the PUMA/RDC personnel, we headed north to the ice to conduct our operations and tests. Working the equipment in the ice provided challenges, both expected and unexpected. Overall the mission was a success and the lessons learned are extremely valuable toward the end goal – determining the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to an oil spill in and around ice.

Ice liberty group photo, PUMA/RDC personnel and the Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew on the ice. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Shannon Riley.

Ice liberty group photo, PUMA/RDC personnel and the Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew on the ice. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Shannon Riley.

The science party wanted to deploy a PUMA from the sea ice. What did that mean for us? You guessed it, a morning of ice liberty! I personally wasn’t expecting any time on the ice this deployment, and now we’ve had two days. In addition, the PUMA launches and recoveries were a success, and everyone enjoyed a little time on the ice. The wind was biting, but many a daring soul braved the Arctic conditions because, let’s face it, how many people can say they walked on an ice floe in the Arctic?

At the end of the week we had a strange contact pop up, literally pop up, out of the ocean. After a moment of shock, we realized we were receiving a visit from the Flying Dutchman! And there be many a wog aboard who has yet to prove their worth before the court of his majesty, King Neptunus Rex. The line crossing ceremony has begun, all wogs, beware!

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

Very respectfully,

Ensign Rebecca Follmer
Public Affairs Officer
USCGC HEALY (WAGB-20)

Ex Arctic Scientia
“From the Arctic, Knowledge”

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