Editor's Note: More videos and photos of the Healy's 2023 mission can be found here: U.S. Coast Guard Polar Ops
TROMSØ, NORWAY- U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20) departed Tromsø, Norway, Thursday, following a four-day port call, in which the Healy crew conducted joint operations with the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Svalbard, hosted a U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) science roundtable, and welcomed aboard guests from a variety of institutions with interest in the Arctic and Healy’s science mission.
Tromsø is Healy’s first port of call since departing Kodiak, Alaska, in late August embarking on a five-week long mission supporting the Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System (NABOS).
The mission was to recover, service, and replace nine subsurface mooring arrays, which give insight into how water from the Atlantic Ocean is introduced into the Arctic at the shelf water level, deep basin interior, and upper ocean; and help develop an understanding of water circulation in the region. Additionally, Healy conducted 41 Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) casts, sampling the seawater to investigate its properties at various depths in the water column.
Prior to arrival, Healy rendezvoused with the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Svalbard in the ice-covered waters northwest of the Svalbard archipelago. The two ships transited together toward Tromsø while crew members participated in an exchange on each other’s vessel to foster a deeper understanding of the other service’s operations.
Upon approach to the fjords northeast of Tromsø, the ships “passed honors” with the Coast Guard Vessel Andenes, saluting the ship on her final patrol before being decommissioned. The voyage concluded with a day-long search and rescue exercise in which a land-based rescue helicopter joined the two Coast Guard ships in responding to a simulated man-overboard and conducting a medical evacuation.
While in port, RDC sponsored a science roundtable, bringing together academic, government, and industry professionals.
“Tromsø is a research hub for Arctic topics, and Healy’s port call in Tromsø offered a unique opportunity to bring together operators and researchers to discuss Arctic search and rescue, vessel safety, navigation, and pollution response,” said Cmdr. Blair Sweigart, U.S. Coast Guard RDC chief of modeling simulation and analytics. “The meeting helped us collectively identify several areas and topics for future collaborative research and was a great success.”
Healy is the Coast Guard’s only icebreaker designed specifically to support research, as well as the nation’s sole surface presence routinely operating in the Arctic Ocean. The platform is ideally specialized for projects like NABOS; providing access to the most remote reaches of the Arctic Ocean; areas barricaded by pack ice and insurmountable by most research vessels.