Healy (WAGB-20) is a United States Coast Guard research icebreaker
commissioned in 1999. She is classified as a medium icebreaker by
the U.S. Coast Guard.
Healy was constructed by Avondale Industries in New Orleans,
Louisiana and named in honor of United States Revenue Cutter Service
Captain Michael A. Healy. Her keel was laid on 16 September 1996. A
spectacular launch followed on 15 November 1997, where 20 people
were injured when a larger than expected wave of muddy water and
debris created by the vessel's launch hit a viewing stand. Delivered
to the US Coast Guard and placed "In Commission, Special" on 10
November 1999, Healy joined the icebreakers USCGC Polar Star
(WAGB-10) and USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB-11) in their homeport of
Seattle, Washington. The ship departed New Orleans on 26 January
2000, performing sea trials off of San Juan, Puerto Rico and in
Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland. She arrived in Seattle on 9
August 2000 after transiting the famed Northwest Passage and was
placed "In Commission, Active" on 21 August 2000.
Designed to conduct a wide range of research activities, Healy
provides more than 4,200 square feet (390 m2) of scientific
laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic
winches, and accommodations for up to 50 scientists. Healy is also
designed to break 4.5 ft (1.4 m) of ice continuously at 3 knots (5.6
km/h; 3.5 mph) and can operate in temperatures as low as −50 °F (−46
°C). The science community provided input on lab layouts and science
capabilities during design and construction of the ship.
As a coast guard cutter, Healy is also a 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.
In August and September 2010, the ship assisted the U.S. Geological
Survey, in cooperation with Natural Resources Canada, Geological
Survey of Canada, in conducting bathymetric and geophysical surveys
in the Beaufort Sea and eastern Arctic Ocean. In 2011, she was in
the middle of a seven-month science cruise in the Arctic Ocean
conducting scientific operations. Due to the other US icebreakers
being either in repair (Polar Star) or in the process of being
decommissioned (Polar Sea), Healy is as of 2013 the only active
large icebreaker in the Coast Guard's fleet. The Commanding Officer
(CO) is Captain John Reeves. Captain Reeves assumed command of Healy
in May, 2013.
In January 2012, Healy escorted the Russian-flagged freighter Renda
through the pack ice to deliver an emergency supply of fuel to Nome,
Alaska. Such a winter delivery had never been attempted before
because the ice floes are 1 to 5 feet (0.30 to 1.52 m) thick during
the winter season.
A group of researchers from the Naval Submarine Medical Research
Laboratory tested their "Submarine Team Behaviors Tool" with the
Healy crew in September 2013 as they evaluated technology for the
recovery of "simulated oil trapped in or under ice at the polar ice