Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard announced on Tuesday, Sept 8 that the icebreaker Healy has arrived at the North Pole on Saturday, Sept 5. This event marks the first time that an American surface ship was able to reach the said peak of the world, unaccompanied.
The Seattle-based Coast Guard cutter that left its base at Dutch Harbor on Aug. 9, 2015 is the fourth U.S. surface vessel to have reached the North Pole, and the first since 2005. About 145 crew and passengers went aboard the ship, including oceanographic geochemistry researchers.
Healy measures 420 feet in length and 16,000 tons in weight. Its engine boasts a 30,000 horsepower feature that makes it highly-competent and able to break 10 feet of ice. At negative 50 °F (-46 °C), the ship can still operate efficiently. The cutter was developed to perform various research efforts with its laboratory that measures more than 4,200 square feet and contains a number of electronic sensors, oceanographic tools and a place to stay for about 50 scientists.
Numerous scientists have shared their inputs as the Healy was developed, particularly in the layout of the laboratory and the science applications during its construction. Healy provides substantial promise for the U.S. Arctic research at a time when the world's interest in the Arctic Ocean basin is deepening.
Other possible activities that Healy can support include polar region missions, logistics assistance, search and rescue operations, escort services, environmental safety and enhancement of lawful protocols and treaties.
According to the office of the Coast Guard, the information that would be collated during this Healy expedition will all the more prove its significance in terms understanding how the different scientific mechanisms in the Arctic come about and how conservation may be best employed in the area.
At present, only two of three U.S. icebreakers are functional. On Sept. 1, 2015, the White House has issued a press release saying that the Obama administration will announce efforts to hasten the acquisition of additional icebreakers so that the nation can operate all year around in the Arctic region.
U.S. icebreakers are fueled by their missions to facilitate scientific studies both in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, maintain U.S. presence in the Arctic for national defense purposes, defend U.S. property within the U.S. economic zone of Alaska, oversee water traffic and provide warranted services that the Coast Guard is expected to deliver.