Arctic & Antarctica
The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy transits to the Gulf of Alaska on July 15, 2021. (Scott Kellerman / U.S. Coast Guard)

Arctic - US icebreaker departs on a voyage that will transit the Northwest Passage

U.S. Coast Guard aims to conduct scientific research while also training crew and asserting a presence in an increasingly competitive region

A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker embarked last week on a long Arctic mission that includes a rare transit of the Northwest Passage, conducting scientific research and a joint exercise with Canada in Arctic waters.

The cutter Healy, one of two operational U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers, departed Aug. 25 from Seward, Alaska, for the three-week journey to Nuuk, Greenland.

The U.S. and Canadian coast guards will conduct a joint search-and-rescue exercise near Resolute, Nunavut, on September 6 and 7, Jason Kung, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, told ArcticToday in an email.

It is the first planned international engagement of Healy’s deployment, Lieutenant Commander Gregory Carr, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard, told ArcticToday.

Last year, a catastrophic fire cut short Healy’s Arctic patrol. A new engine was shipped from Baltimore and successfully installed. So far, the ship is working very well, Carr said.

Healy last transited the passage in 2005.

In 2017, the U.S. cutter Maple navigated the Northwest Passage from west to east together with the Canadian icebreaker Terry Fox to conduct research in a joint exercise with Canada.

Healy crew members retrieve an oceanographic research mooring in the Chukchi Sea, August 2, 2021. (Janessa Warschkow / U.S. Coast Guard )

Conducting research and projecting presence

U.S. vessels may travel through the passage if they are conducting research, according to a 1988 agreement with Canada.

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