U.S. Coast Guard Cutter 'Healy' begins the first of three Arctic missions scheduled during 2012.
Healy departed its homeport of Seattle July 30, for a deployment that will include three missions that support scientific research in the Arctic. After a brief stop in Dutch Harbor for logistics and to welcome aboard the 38 members of the HLY-12-01 science party, the cutter continued its northbound transit through the Bering Strait to the Chukchi Sea.
The first science mission the Healy crew is scheduled to conduct is a part of the Chukchi Sea Offshore Monitoring in Drilling Area (COMIDA) project, and will examine the Hanna Shoal region to determine the biological, chemical and physical properties that define the area as high biological and exploratory energy significance.
Hanna Shoal is positioned 92 miles northwest of Barrow, and is within 46 miles of the Shell exploratory drill sites. It is here that two nutrient-rich currents from the western Arctic and the Bering Sea merge, which create high standing stocks of biota, especially near the bottom of the water column, and in the marine sediment.
The study will focus on the Hanna Shoal ecosystem, specifically on the influence of the plankton in the food chain, marine sediment fauna, and inventories of trace metal and organic compounds in the water column and on the seafloor, as well as physical oceanographic studies that will address water mass movements, ice conditions and modeling.
Healy will deploy an array of scientific instruments to retrieve this sensitive data, including Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) rosettes, a benthic camera, bongo nets, a benthic trawl, a Van Veen grab, and gravity/multi cores. The cutter will also deploy six moorings and numerous drift buoys.