Military Capabilities

US showcases Arctic naval operations

23 October 2018

US Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20) breaks through the ice during recent Arctic operations. Source: US Coast Guard

The United States has recently conducted maritime missions in the Arctic in the form of US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Navy (USN) operations.

USCG Cutter Healy (WAGB-20) completed the second mission on 18 October of its Arctic West Summer 2018 deployment to study stratified ocean dynamics in the Arctic (SODA) for the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Meanwhile, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) and a flotilla of ships from its carrier strike group entered the Arctic Circle on 19 October to conduct operations in the Norwegian Sea - the first time in nearly three decades that a US carrier has entered the region. USS America (CV 66) was the last ship to operate in the area, participating in NATO exercise 'North Star' in September 1991.

The USCG mission was designed to better understand how the Arctic environment affects the different water layers of the Arctic Ocean, service officials said, to assess how those factors may help better predict ice coverage in the region.

About 100 Healy crew members and 30 scientists and engineers departed Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on 14 September for SODA. Once in the Arctic Circle, the team deployed an array of scientific equipment, which will monitor the region for the next year and transmit data back to scientists.

Homeported in Seattle, Healy is one of only two US icebreakers.

SODA is one of several multi-year studies to determine how to best proceed in the region in light of climatic changes. "Knowing how and when conditions in the Arctic are favourable for transit allows the Department of Defense to plan and prepare for this increased human activity," the USCG said in a statement.

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