U.S.C.G. photo/ Prentice DannerThe Coast Guard Cutter HEALY (WAGB – 20) is United States’ newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker.

HEALY is designed to conduct a wide range of research activities, providing more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches, and accommodations for up to 50 scientists. HEALY is designed to break 4 ½ feet of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as -50 degrees F. The science community provided invaluable input on lab lay-outs and science capabilities during design and construction of the ship. At a time when scientific interest in the Arctic Ocean basin is intensifying, HEALY substantially enhances the United States Arctic research capability

As a Coast Guard cutter, HEALY is also a capable platform for supporting other potential missions in the polar regions, including logistics, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection, and enforcement of laws and treaties.

More info:

Active Duty Personnel: 75 

Reserve Personnel: 0 

Civilian Personnel: 0

Payroll: $2,250,000

Budget: $1,135,783

Established: The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the Coast Guard’s only 420-foot icebreaker was built by Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, La., and launched Nov. 15, 1997. The Healy is named after Capt. Michael A. Healy, also known as “Hell Roaring Mike.” Healy made his mark in history during the last two decades of the 19th Century as captain of the cutter Bear in Alaska. In his 20 years of service, he acted as judge, doctor and policeman to Alaskan natives, merchant seamen and whaling crews.

What we do: The Healy’ s primary mission is to function as a world class high latitude research platform. Healy will be employed in icebreaking operations during all seasons in the Arctic and Antarctic. All the ship’s systems are designed to function for extended winter operations in these areas including intentional wintering over. Arctic missions will include service as a scientific platform and ice escort to vessels supporting Arctic installations. Antarctic missions include support of the U.S. Antarctic Program in scientific research projects, ice escort of supply vessels, transport of cargo and passengers, and support of Antarctic Treaty inspection teams. Healy has state-ofthe-art fully automated systems for control of the ship and the machinery plant. Ship control is provided at three conning stations with five conning positions. The bridge also has an integrated navigation system, and a steering control system. The ship’s aviation facilities include a flight deck, hangar complex and helicopter control station capable of supporting two HH-65A Dolphin helicopters. The flight deck is certified for both day and night operations and is capable of handling vertical replenishment and helicopter in-flight refueling operations.

Accomplished Operations: In January 2003, the Healy deployed to assist the USCGC Polar Sea with Operation Deep Freeze 2003. Heavy ice conditions, documented as the worse conditions in 50 years, necessitated the need for two icebreaking cutters. The cutters assured McMurdo Station, Antarctica, received necessary supplies to continue operations.


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