“Healy” arrived at the North Pole on September 5, with a crew and science party of 145 people on board. The vessel departed Dutch Harbor, Alaska on August 9 in support of GEOTRACES, an international effort to study the geochemistry of the world’s oceans.
This National Science Foundation funded expedition is focused on studying the Arctic Ocean to meet a number of scientific goals, including the creation of baseline measurements of the air, ice, snow, seawater, meltwater and ocean bottom sediment for future comparisons.
This is only the fourth time a U.S. surface vessel has ever reached the North Pole, and the first since 2005, the U.S. Coast Guard writes in a press release.
“Healy” is the United States’ newest high-latitude vessel and was commissioned in 1999. It is a 128 meters, 16.000 tons large icebreaker, designed to break 1.4 m of ice continuously at 3 knots.
In addition to performing the Coast Guard’s other statutory missions such as law enforcement and search and rescue, “Healy” is a research platform with extensive laboratory spaces, multiple oceanographic deck winches, and berthing for 50 scientists.
“Healy” is one of only two operational icebreakers the United States have. The other one – “Polar Star”, is located in Seattle but is not in active service.