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US Coast Guard Cutter HEALY visits Juneau
Published: 10/14/2010 16:45:00
Last week, the US Coast Guard Cutter HEALY was in Juneau for a few days on the way home to Seattle.

Commissioned in 1999, the HEALY is the Coast Guard's newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker. The 420 foot long ship is primarily an arctic scientific research vessel; with a crew of 82, she has room for up to 50 scientists.

The ship has been in the Arctic since May. In addition to recovering and deploying research, the coast guard has been working with NASA and Canadian authorities.

Ensign Emily Kehrt is the ship's Public Information Officer. She explained "The ship usually does scientific missions similar to the ones we did this summer, which involve anything from meteorological studies, biological studies. We have sonar mapping, we do a lot of mapping of the sea floor, creating a better picture of the Arctic Ocean than has been made before. So this summer, working with NASA was a new thing for us; we hope to continue it in the future. And we've been working with the Canadians for three years now creating a picture of the extended continental shelf."

Visitors to the ship had the opportunity to take a tour of some of the key areas on board.

The bridge is considerably more spacious that most; but when you operate in the arctic, you want as much indoor space as possible.

EM1 Richard Cline is an Electrical Engineer on board. "We have the technology to keep everything down into smaller areas now, so if you have a big area, you might as well put it to use for comfort and all that."

Like the bridge, technology also plays a key role in the operation of the ship. The engineering control center oversees all the technical systems on board using a computerized system.

Cline demonstrated some of the capabilities: "From here, we can do basically anything you want. We can start and stop engines; all you've got to do is bring it up and say emergency start and it'll bring the engine online, close your breaker, and all of a sudden you have power to your switchboard back here."

It takes a lot of power to break through Arctic ice, and with 6.6 Kilovolts of generation capacity, the HEALY is well prepared for any mission.

By: Mikko Wilson -