HEALY's missions this spring were part of the National Science Foundation's Bering Ecosystem Study (or BEST) and the North Pacific Research Board's Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program.
HEALY scientists conducted a suite of studies to provide insights about how marine microorganisms, plants and animals, including fish, marine mammals, and birds, as well as local human communities, will be affected by the on-going changes in the region. The two chief scientists who coordinated the missions explain that this work at the ice edge used different sampling strategies, but focused on a common goal of improving the ecological understanding of the Bering Sea. HEALY is the newest and largest of the nation's three heavy icebreakers and the only one with extensive scientific capabilities. The 420-foot cutter was commissioned in 2000 and has a permanent crew of 80. Scientific support is her primary mission, but as a Coast Guard Cutter, HEALY is also a capable platform for supporting other potential missions in the Polar Regions, including logistics support, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection, and the enforcement of laws and treaties.