18 June, 2000
What's all the Hubbub Bub?
The marine science community is extremely excited about the USCGC Healy, even though they have access to two other Polar Class icebreakers, the Polar Sea and the Polar Star. The Healy is the first icebreaker built since 1978, and is the first to be a true collaboration between the government, research scientists, and the ship building industry.
The USCGC Healy was named after Michael Healy who commanded the U.S. Revenue cutters Corwin and Bear during the late 1800's. While commanding the Bear in the waters of Alaska, Healy became a legendary figure to both Native-Alaskans and the pioneers that developed the resources the area offered.
The new vessel, commanded by Jeffrey A Garrett, was designed as a research vessel for extended polar research, including times it may winter over in the ice. To help scientists have input into the design of the ship, The University National Oceanographic Laboratory System, or UNOLs formed the Arctic Icebreaker Coordination Committee, or AICC, in 1996. Dr. James Swift chaired the committee, which helped modify the science work areas. Both the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Science Foundation support the AICC.
From this collaboration we know have the Healy, an icebreaker 420 feet in length. The Healy can break 4.5 feet of ice at three knots, or eight feet by backing and ramming. It comes equipped with a wide variety of science tools including, a meteorological measurement system, depth sounding and subbottom profiling equipment, a weather satellite system, sonar system, and oceanographic probes. There are many lab spaces, including the Main lab, Wet lab, Bio-Chem lab, Metrological lab, and Photography Lab. Other facilities that will be used by researchers include an electronics and computer lab, a wildlife viewing platform, and a starboard and aft staging area. These staging areas are equipped with winches and A-frames that will aid in over the side operations such as coring, dredging, and mooring deployment.
The first official cruise after the ice trails and routine maintenance procedures in its homeport of Seattle, Washington will be in March or April of 2001. Research scientists have already submitted their proposals for the use of the Healy and are eagerly waiting for word, whether or not they will be included in the first official science cruise.
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