U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Reaches North Pole

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy's crew poses in front of the cutter after reaching the North Pole September 6.

Published Sep 9, 2015 2:03 AM by The Maritime Executive

The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Geotraces science team had their portrait taken at the North Pole on September 7. Healy reached the pole on September 5, becoming the first U.S. surface vessel to do so unaccompanied. 

This is also only the fourth time a U.S. surface vessel has ever reached the North Pole, and the first since 2005. 

Healy’s crew and science party, totaling 145 people, departed Dutch Harbor, Alaska August 9, in support of GEOTRACES, an historic, international effort to study the geochemistry of the world’s oceans. This National Science Foundation funded expedition is focused on studying the Arctic Ocean to meet a number of scientific goals, including the creation of baseline measurements of the air, ice, snow, seawater, meltwater and ocean bottom sediment for future comparisons. 

The Coast Guard has operated in the Arctic since the 1860s. Healy is the United States’ newest high-latitude vessel. It is a 420-foot, 16,000-ton, 30,000-horsepower icebreaker, capable of breaking over ten feet of ice. In addition to performing the Coast Guard’s other statutory missions such as law enforcement and search and rescue, Healy is a research platform with extensive laboratory spaces, multiple oceanographic deck winches, and berthing for 50 scientists.