A US Coast Guard icebreaker has carved its way to the North Pole, becoming the first American surface ship to get to the top of the world by itself, officials said.
The US Coast Guard Cutter Healy, which is based in Seattle, arrived at the Pole on September 5, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The rapid melting of polar ice has sent activity in the inhospitable region into overdrive — as nations eye newly viable oil, gas deposits, mineral deposits and shipping routes like the Northwest Passage. "As the Arctic region continues to open up to development, the data gathered on board Healy during this cruise will become ever more essential to understanding how the scientific processes of the Arctic work, and how to most responsibly exercise stewardship over the region," the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The 420 ft, 16,000 ton Healy is one of only two active US icebreakers; the other is the smaller but stronger Polar Star, measuring 399 feet long and 11,000 tons. That compares with 40 icebreakers for Russia, with 11 more on the way. The ship’s crew and passengers comprised 145 people including scientists who are studying the geochemistry of the world’s oceans. The president’s proposal speeds up the acquisition of a new heavy-duty Arctic ice breaker by two years, to 2020, and calls on Congress to fund the construction of additional vessels.
Source: news.discovery.com, yahoo.com, csmonitor.com