U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy

The Coast Guard Cutter<em>Healy</em>(WAGB - 20) is United States' newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB-20). Click image for larger view. Credit: USCG

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, 420 ft long and 82 ft broad, is the United States’ newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker. The ship was named for Captain Michael A. Healy of the U.S. Revenue Marine (a precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard). Even in the early days of operations off Alaska, science was an important part of the Coast Guard mission; naturalist John Muir made several voyages with Captain Healy during the 1880s as part of a major scientific program.

The tradition of scientific support continues on USCGC Healy, which was 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.