August 18, 2015 — Low clouds clung to the peaks of Unalaska on Aug. 9, as two tugboats eased the massive red hull of Coast Guard Cutter Healy out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska for an historic mission to the Arctic. Loaded heavy with stores, supplies, scientific equipment, and 145 souls, Healy headed north into the steel-gray waters of the Bering Sea.
Healy is supporting Geotraces, an international scientific mission seven years in the making, to create a baseline for the health of the world’s oceans. This summer’s mission will be part of the first Geotraces expedition to the Arctic Ocean.
It is the goal of the expedition to gather seawater, sediment, ice, and air samples at pre-determined stations reaching to the North Pole, making this journey particularly unique.
“This will be the first time in several years that we have operated in the highest regions of the Arctic,” said Capt. Jason Hamilton, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Healy. “In fact, an unaccompanied U.S. surface vessel has never reached the North Pole.”
In addition to Healy’s permanent Coast Guard crew, a 50-member, interdisciplinary team of scientists are onboard working together to meet the expedition’s many scientific objectives by pooling their knowledge of chemical, biological, and physical oceanography.