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United States Coast Guard Icebreakers 

Lisa Clough,  Department of Biology, East Carolina University 

The US arctic science community currently draws on two types of polar icebreakers for research in ice-covered waters- the multi-mission Polar-class Coast Guard cutters POLAR STAR and POLAR SEA, and the research vessel, Coast Guard cutter HEALY.  In addition, plans are well underway to replace the R/V ALPHA HELIX with an intermediate sized, ice-strengthened vessel (more information on the Alaska Region Research Vessel can be found at:  

The Polar class icebreakers are 399 feet long, and have a crew of approximately 150, including a 14 person and two helicopter aviation detachment. They can accommodate a scientific party of greater than 20 depending on the mission. Both the POLAR SEA and POLAR STAR have modified science spaces, and include a dry lab, two wet lab spaces, a CTD hanger and vestibule, three general purpose cranes (two 15 ton, one 3 ton), and two oceanographic winches linked to J-frames. 

The HEALY is 420 feet long, has a crew of 75 plus a modified aviation detachment of 10 people and two helos, and can accommodate up to 51 scientists in a total of 18 staterooms.  HEALY contains extensive lab spaces (~3000 square feet), as well as in-hull science systems including Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs), a SeaBeam 2112 multibeam sonar system, and two types of subbottom profiling systems.  HEALY has two oceanographic winches, and a double drum trawl/core winch linked to stern and starboard A-frames. 

More information on the ships, and assistance with things such as expeditionary planning is available to the community through the UNOLS Arctic Icebreaker Coordinating Committee (AICC) and the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Operations Science Liaison office