A Luncheon Cruise & Tour on the Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy


Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy at it’s slip at the Seattle Coast Guard Base at Pier 36

Last Saturday I had the honor of an Elliot Bay lunch cruise on the USCG Icebreaker Healy which is home-ported in Seattle.

This was a special trip set up to let the family and friends of the crew on the Icebreaker Healy to see the Healy and find out a bit more about the ship, it’s proud history and the many varied missions it has performed over it’s 14 plus years of service.  The trip also served as a short shakedown cruise as the crew has been doing some major work to get the Healy ready for deployment to the Arctic this summer.

The trip was a real surprise, we had a Coast Guard Auxiliary meeting scheduled at the base in the morning but not many people showed up.  A few of the Auxiliary had already been invited aboard the Healy for the day.  The Division Two Vice Commander called one of the Healy’s crew to see if he could bring a few more people aboard for the trip, while the request was working up to the proper channels, we sort of showed up at the gang plank with a request of “table with a view for 10, sorry we don’t have reservations.”  The two very nice Healy crew members that were checking the reservations at the gangplank replied to the effect, “sorry no tables, but some great views are available and lots of room, your names please” and with that we were directed aboard and to the flight deck for the pre-departure safety lecture.


A few “fun facts” I found interesting about the boat:

  • When they deploy for ice operations they take a full years supply of food “just in case.”  If the Healy gets stuck in the ice like Earnest Shackleton’s  ship the Endurance, the Healy can just wait for the spring thaw.
  • On every even hour a crew member inspects the entire ship from top to bottom and stem to stern, it’s a two mile trip and up and down many many ladders, takes a full hour for the round.
  • The Healy is 419′ 9″ feet (128 meters) Length Overall
  • The beam of the Healy is 82 feet (25 meters)
  • Full load displacement is 16,419 LT or 36,778,000 pounds.
  • Endurance (range) 16,000 NM (18,400 statute miles) (or 7.4 times the distance from Seattle to Boston) at 12.5 knots.
  • Fuel Capacity: 1,220,915 gallons (4,521,000 liters)
  • The Crows nest is about 80 feet above the water line and has a full helm in it where the Healy can be driven while breaking ice.

The Healy is named in honor of the legendary Captain “Hell Roaring” Michael Healy (CG Bio & reference linksSecond Bio).  Captain Healy was the United States to those living in Alaska for his two decades of service in Alaska for the Coast Guard (then the Revenue Cutter Service) at the end of the 19th century.  Captain Healy and his crew acted as judge, policeman and doctor for whaling crews, merchant seamen, Alaskan Natives and settlers, suppressing illegal trade, protecting natural resources, supplying remote outposts and providing the ever important Search and Rescue services to those in trouble.  Captain Healy served in the Revenue Cutter Service for 39 years.

The Healy name and scientific research go back to the 1880’s when the naturalist John Muir made several scientific research trips on the Cutter Bear with Captain Healy.

Watching the crew in the Pilothouse work together while underway was a marvelous exercise in teamwork and masterful situational awareness, NOTHING escaped the lookouts and the helm team.  They made it all look so easy.  We were not allowed in the Pilothouse while leaving or returning to the Pier.  Leaving and returning to the Pier was an exercise in watching calm, cool & smooth, no excitement, everyone knew their job and was ready to do their jobs.

One of the anchors was ready for immediate release in the very off chance that something major went wrong with the ship during the trip, the second anchor was ready for release with just a few moments of prep,  this is example of the “just in case” preparation that the Coast Guard does as standard operating procedure.

The Healy crew consists of 12 officers, 10 CPO (Chief Petty Officer) and 53 enlisted Coast Guard Personnel.

The Healy was designed for research as well as breaking ice with accommodations and work space for 51 Scientists and Technicians.

A special thanks to the Commanding Officer of the Healy, Captain John Reeves and his entire crew for making the trip possible and the great burger BBQ on the flight deck.  Also thanks to FN Rebecca Molinari for inviting the Auxiliary and giving us a tour of the ship including the machinery areas.

Home web page for the Healy.

The U.S. Coast Guard Museum, Seattle, Washington.


Thanks for your interest in and support of boating safety

– c/m –

This entry was posted in Aux Activities, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Luncheon Cruise & Tour on the Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy

  1. Jim Ehnborn says:

    Great job

  2. Gene says:

    Thanks for the great pictures

  3. Pingback: USCG Adm. Zukunft: The Man, His Mission | Boating Safety Tips, Tricks & Thoughts from Captnmike

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