USCGC Healy (WAGB-20)

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Career (United States) 100x35px
Builder: Avondale Shipyard
Laid down: 16 September 1996
Launched: 15 November 1997
Commissioned: 10 November 1999
Motto: Promise and Deliver
Status: in active service, as of 2024


Crest of the USCGC Healy
General characteristics
Displacement: 16,000 long tons (16,000 t)
Length: 420 ft (130 m)
Beam: 82 ft (25 m)
Ice class: 4.5 ft (1.4 m) @ 3 kn (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) continuous
8 ft (2.4 m) backing and ramming
Propulsion: Diesel-electric
Speed: 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph) maximum
Complement: 76 crew, 50 scientists
Aircraft carried: 1999–2005: 2 × HH-65A Dolphin helicopters.
2005–present: Helicopter support is performed by a National Science Foundation contractor.

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 4,200 square feet (390 m2) 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 20 feet (6 m). LT Hill's father, citing autopsy reports, has indicated that his daughter actually reached a depth of near 200 feet in what he described as an out of control descent. The divers were tended by unqualified and poorly instructed personnel on the surface, none of whom were familiar with cold water diving or scuba diving in general.[1] It is not clear why they extended so much line to the divers. By the time the two could be pulled to the surface, gas reserves were emptied and neither diver could be revived.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

See also


External links

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