USCGC Healy (WAGB-20)

USCGC Healy (WAGB-20)

USCGC "Healy" (WAGB-20) is a research icebreaker put into commission in 1999 by the United States Coast Guard. She was constructed by Avondale Industries in New Orleans, Louisiana and named in honor of Captain "Hell Roaring" Michael A. Healy U.S.R.C.S. Her keel was laid on September 16, 1996. A spectacular launch followed on November 15, 1997. Delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard and placed "In Commission, Special" on November 10, 1999, "Healy" joined the icebreakers "Polar Star" (WAGB-10) and "Polar Sea" (WAGB-11) in their homeport of Seattle, Washington. The ship departed New Orleans on January 26, 2000, performing sea trials off of San Juan, Puerto Rico and in the Baffin Sea between Canada and Greenland. It arrived in Seattle on August 9, 2000 after transiting the famed Northwest Passage and was placed "In Commission, Active" on August 21, 2000.

Designed to conduct a wide range of research activities, "Healy" provides more than convert|4200|sqft|m2|-1 of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches, and accommodations for up to 50 scientists. "Healy" is also designed to break 4.5 feet of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as −50 °F (−45 °C). The science community provided invaluable input on lab lay-outs and science capabilities during design and construction of the ship.

As a Coast Guard cutter, "Healy" is also a capable platform for supporting other potential missions in the polar regions, including logistics, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection, and enforcement of laws and treaties.


On August 17, 2006, LT Jessica Hill and PO2 Stephen Duque died of unspecified causes during diving operations in the Arctic Ocean. The circumstances of the accident are under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has conducted simultaneous safety and administrative investigations the results of which were made public in January 2007 ( [ USCG Commandant's Statement] , [ Final Action Memorandum] ) along with a [ Final Decision Letter] dated 23 August, 2007.

Initial press reports indicated that the divers were conducting an inspection of the rudder, a routine operation, at the time of the accident; but later reports state that the two were doing a cold-water training dive near the bow of the ship. The dive was reported to have been planned for a maximum depth of convert|20|ft|m|0. LT Hill's father, citing autopsy reports, has indicated that his daughter actually reached a depth of near 200 feet in what he described an out of control descent. The divers were tended by personnel on the surface. It is not clear why they extended so much line to the divers. By the time the two could be pulled to the surface, oxygen reserves were emptied and neither diver could be revived. [cite web
title=200-Foot (60 m) Plunge Killed Coast Guard Divers
first = Neal
last = Karlinsky
date = 2006-11-22
publisher = ABC News
accessdate = 2007-10-20

On August 30, Commanding Officer Captain Douglas G. Russell was temporarily relieved of command by Vice Admiral Charles Wuster citing a "loss of confidence" in Russell's ability to command. [cite web
url =
title = Coast Guard skipper out over 2 diving deaths
first = Mike
last = Barber
date = 2006-08-31
publisher = Seattle Post-Intelligencer
accessdate = 2007-10-20
] The relief was later made permanent by Admiral Thad Allen, Coast Guard Commandant. Russell was initially replaced by Captain Daniel K. Oliver, the previous "Healy" Commanding Officer (CO) who Russell had relieved only two months earlier. Oliver returned to his regular staff job a short time later, when Captain Ted Lindstrom was named the new permanent CO. Lindstom has commanded four previous Coast Guard cutters, and was Chief of Response for the Coast Guard's 13th District in Seattle, Washington prior to returning to sea. [cite web
url =
title = New Healy captain named after deaths of 2 Coast Guard divers
first = Gene
last = Johnson
date = 2006-08-30
work = Associated Press
publisher = Seattle Post-Intelligencer
accessdate = 2007-10-20


External links

* [ USCGC "Healy"] Official site

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