The Expedition - The Ship
Overview | Objectives
| Science Crew | The Ship
The 420 foot long Coast Guard Cutter Healy
is the United States' newest and most technologically advanced icebreaker.
She is named after Coast Guard Captain Michael A. Healy and is homeported
in Seattle, Washington.
Healy was designed as a polar research platform, and can conduct
a wide range of at-sea research activities including geology, oceanography,
sea-ice physics, and other scientific disciplines. As a Coast Guard
cutter, Healy is also capable of supporting other potential
missions in the polar regions, including logistics, search and rescue,
ship escort, environmental protection, and enforcement of laws and
Captain Daniel K. Oliver is Healy's commanding officer. A typical
crew complement is 20 officers and 60 enlisted personnel. The crew
is assigned to different departments, such as the operations department
and the engineering department. The departments work together as a
team to make sure the ship completes its missions efficiently and
Healy is designed to break 4 ½ feet
of ice continuously at a speed of three knots but can break up to
8 feet of ice by "backing and ramming" the floes. Although
Healy is capable of breaking very thick ice, rule number one
in ice breaking is, if possible, avoid the ice. This
is simply because it takes longer, consumes more fuel, and produces
more wear and tear on the ship when battering through the ice. The
most efficient way to break through ice is to find the weakest points
in the ice, such as existing cracks or open areas called leads.
When there are none, the ship will look for first year ice,
which is often flat and 2-6 feet thick. As sea ice gets older it becomes
considerably stronger, and changes color to a distinctive deep blue.
The hull shape of the Healy is designed to maximize icebreaking
by efficiently combining the forces of the ships forward motion,
the downward pull of gravity on the bow, and the upward push on the
stern due to its inherent buoyancy. Healy has other unique
features designed for polar operations. Fuel tanks can carry over
1.2 million gallons of fuel to provide Healy with 60-150 days
of endurance. A central hydraulic system operates cranes, boat hoists,
and the anchor system. Healy also carries two HH-65A Dolphin
helicopters to carry out scientific support, ice reconnaissance, cargo
transfer, and search and rescue. The ship can comfortably
operate in temperatures as low as -50 degrees F.
Healy has 4,200' of laboratory space and berthing space for
up to 50 scientists. The science community provided invaluable input
on lab layouts and science capabilities during design and construction
of the ship. The oceanographic winches and lab spaces give scientists
the flexibility to conduct a wide range of research activities.