Cutter Healy Gears for Its Next Arctic Mission

Coast Guard Cutter Healy will moor in Seward on Wednesday following the return from the first-out-of-three scientific missions in the Arctic Chukchi Sea.

The vessel will disembark 46 researchers from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after 39 days in the Arctic.

The port call will include swap out of science teams and equipment. The new researchers ready to embark on the second mission are arriving from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, U.C. San Diego and the Office of Naval Research, Coast Guard noted.

During the first oceanographic research mission, Cutter Healy discovered multiple new species of jellyfish in the Chukchi Borderlands, an entirely new genetic order of benthic ctenophore and documented a new reproductive behavior of comb jellyfish.

Cutter Healy’s crew worked with the science party to deploy the Global Explorer ROV to collect hundreds of living specimens for laboratory study.

Other sampling gear enabled the scientists to assess the biological diversity of the entire ecosystem, from creatures living beneath the sea floor to microbial communities in sea ice.

The vessel is scheduled to depart for its second Arctic mission on Tuesday, August 16. The Coast Guard crew will help the science team deploy an array of acoustic bottom moorings to collect data on how climate change and decreased ice coverage is affecting the Arctic Ocean.

The third and final mission scheduled for mid-September is funded by NOAA in support of the State Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology. Researchers from the University of New Hampshire will use multi-beam sonar mapping and bottom dredging in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean to further support the demarcation of the Extended Continental Shelf to support the United States’ territorial claims in the Arctic.