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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 20, 2023

Cutter Healy returns home after circumnavigating the globe

By Senior Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20) and crew returned to its homeport Dec. 15, 2023, after circumnavigating the globe covering 25,000 miles in 159-days in support of the 2024 Arctic science missions. 
The Healy and crew made port call stops in Seward and Kodiak, Alaska; Tromsø, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Reykjavik, Iceland; Charleston, South Carolina; and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Additionally, Healy transited the Panama Canal on its return to Seattle.    
“I am incredibly proud of the crew’s performance during our 159-day deployment,” said Capt. Michele Schallip, commanding officer of Healy. “The Healy continued demonstrating the nation’s commitment to the global science community as it seeks to improve understanding of the changing Arctic, particularly in ice-covered waters difficult to reach by most research vessels. This deployment also allowed for engagements and joint exercises with Canada, Norway, The Kingdom of Denmark, and Iceland, which promoted interoperability and cooperation in the Arctic region. The crew was able to share similarities and differences with crews of ships conducting similar work to Healy for their respective nations, a special opportunity to build on these long-standing partnerships.” 
The cutter’s first mission supported the Office of Naval Research’s Arctic Mobile Observing System, deploying data collection buoys, subsurface gliders, and other sensors in ice-covered waters north of Alaska. The second mission was in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. Healy and scientists recovered and replaced subsurface moorings with oceanographic instruments and sensors as part of the Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System in the East Siberian and Laptev Seas. In addition, the cutter hosted a team from the Coast Guard Research and Development Center, who conducted a broad portfolio of research to develop better techniques and technologies for operating in the Arctic environment. 
While deployed, Healy conducted crew exchanges with crews from the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfred Laurier and the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel Thor. The cutter and crew participated in a similar exchange with the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Svalbard and crew before joining in a multi-agency search and rescue exercise in Norway. In addition to these valuable engagements with Arctic partners, the cutter visited port cities on the Atlantic coast of the United States, increasing awareness of U.S. Coast Guard missions in the Arctic. 
Healy is the Coast Guard’s only icebreaker designed specifically to support research and the nation’s sole surface presence routinely operating in the Arctic Ocean. Commissioned in 1999, the Healy is one of two active polar icebreakers. 



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