Arctic Circle, July 10, 2016 —
“Now, for the information of all hands, US Coast Guard Cutter HEALY has stood into the realm of the Arctic Circle…To all Honorable Polar Bears Onboard: Borealis Rex and his court welcome you back.” - LCDR Dan Everette, Operations Officer.
Greetings to all readers, both of the Honorable Polar Bear and Blue Nose variety! HEALY crossed the Arctic Circle Thursday afternoon. Science stations have started with box cores, bongo nets, moorings, and hydrographic casts all taking place throughout the week. We have also observed our last sunset for at least the next month!
After departing Seward, HEALY conducted a restricted waters transit to view the Holgate Arm Glacier. The glacier, which extends from the Harding Ice Field and Kenai Fjords National Park, was immense and truly awe inspiring. From the bergy bits to the bears on the shore, it was a breathtaking spectacle for sure.
On Monday July 4th, the crew celebrated our nation’s birthday with a day of rest, relaxation, and remembrance. Movies including The Patriot were shown on the hangar projector, while ping pong and cornhole matches were played throughout the afternoon. Card games and impromptu guitar performances also filled the hangar throughout the day. A delicious assortment of traditional cookout food including hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and barbeque brisket sandwiches rounded out the day.
Science operations started on Wednesday. The box core collects a stratified sediment sample from the ocean floor. It was fine-tuned, ensuring its readiness. Bongo nets, which are two circular nets utilized to catch plankton and other small marine organisms, were deployed from the aft a-frame. We also deployed the CTD carousel from the starboard a-frame. Returning readers will remember that CTD stands for “Conductivity-Temperature-Depth”. It is an important oceanographic tool for measuring the physical properties of the water column, and can capture samples from different depths to bring back aboard for further analysis and study. It was a great opportunity for new crewmembers to familiarize themselves with the deployment process for this crucial instrument.
Throughout the week, the determined and extremely hard-working members of the Engineering Department repaired machinery and fixed equipment, all prior to our arrival in the ice. Without their dedication and expertise in troubleshooting, HEALY could not complete such a challenging mission. They repaired a jacket water liner on the number three main diesel engine. They troubleshot piston performance on the same engine. A-Gang was busy repairing one of the evaporators that makes our fresh water. Hats off to the Engineering Department for all the hard work they do!
HEALY crossed the Arctic Circle on Thursday afternoon, and by Friday morning we spotted the first ice of the summer. Our summer missions are scheduled for us to reach the ice during its degradation stages, when the northern hemisphere’s long hours of daylight and warmer temperatures melt the ice. By September, near the conclusion of our second mission, the ice will have already started to refreeze and expand throughout the Arctic Ocean.
The sights, sounds and feel of the ice against the hull instantaneously brought a heightened sense of motivation and nostalgia to much of the crew. While many crewmembers onboard remembered our expedition last year to the North Pole, this summer is also another chance for HEALY to serve the United States by providing presence and access throughout the Arctic region. On our first day in the ice, we also spotted our first polar bear! He strolled leisurely about a half-mile away as we pushed through the ice, seemingly unsure of exactly what the large, red intruder might be. As we each went our separate ways, onboard the cutter, we hope to observe more wildlife as the expedition continues.
Saturday rounded out the week with the weekly morale meal, this time cooked and served by the Operations Department! The chicken parmesan, tossed salad, and garlic bread were all spectacular. Italian night definitely refueled the scientists and crew onboard after a very busy first week of science. We were also treated to ET1 Justin Knowlton’s famous six-alarm chili. Not exactly Italian, but delicious nonetheless!
Be sure to follow the ship via our track-line updates on Icefloe , and check in next week to read about the progress of our AWS 1601 mission, Chukchi Borderlands. Moorings, CTD casts, and ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicles) operations are all on the list of for next week’s science stations!
ENS Brian Hagerty
Public Affairs Officer
USCGC HEALY (WAGB 20)
For more information about CGC Healy, please visit:
We are now in the ice and squarely in the land of the midnight sun. We entered the ice on Friday and shortly thereafter completed our first science station. The excitement is palpable, especially from those who are in the ice for the first time. We've spotted two polar bears and today we even had to back and ram to transit through multi-year ice flows. The ice is thicker than anticipated and we have been transiting at a speed of a little over 1 knot for the past 24 hours. Exceptional conditions for ice pilot training for our OODs.
Over the next month we will establish the science operational routine, working round the clock to collect the samples necessary to discern the health of the fragile Chukchi Borderlands ecological system. Thanks for all you are doing back home to enable us to conduct this critically important mission.
Captain Jason R. Hamilton
USCGC HEALY (WAGB 20)
Ex Arctic Scientia
“From the Arctic, Knowledge”