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Greetings from the North Pole

30,000-horsepower Healy makes the nation’s first solo visit

Satellites snatch glimpses of the North Pole effortlessly, but human visits remain a rare achievement — and a dream. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy reached the pole on September 5. Healy’s was the fourth ever visit by a U.S. surface vessel and the first to reach the pole unaccompanied.
    Healy, the nation’s newest high-latitude vessel, is a 420-foot, 16,000-ton, 30,000-horsepower icebreaker. Reaching the pole required plowing through ice more than 10 feet deep. As well as ice breaking, law enforcement and search and rescue, Healy serves as a research platform with laboratories, multiple oceanographic deck winches and berthing for 50 scientists.
    Healy’s crew and science party, totaling 145 people, made the round-trip journey from and to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, between August 9 and October 13.
    The voyage supports 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.
    Understanding the scientific processes of the Arctic is a step to exercising responsible stewardship over the difficult but fragile region.