The crew of the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a polar icebreaker, rescued a man aboard a sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Saturday.
The crew of the Healy broke a 12 mile path through the Arctic ice with the sailboat, Altan Girl, in tow and led it to open water. The Healy crew conducted a safety inspection of the mariner’s vessel to ensure the vessel was seaworthy and that all the required safety equipment was on board. The mariner intends to sail to Barrow to resupply and await safer weather conditions before continuing his journey. The crew of the Healy will return to their National Science Foundation-funded research mission.
Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders in Juneau were contacted by North Slope Borough Search and Rescue Monday who reported that a man, sailing his 36-foot sailboat from Vancouver, Canada, to eastern Canada via the Northwest Passage, needed assistance after his vessel had become trapped in the ice.
The NSBSAR personnel reported that they were unable to fly to the man’s location due to weather conditions and low visibility. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided ice and weather forecasts to help responders set a course of action.
The Coast Guard diverted Healy from its NSF-supported research mission in the Arctic in order to assist the mariner.
“This case highlights the important capabilities that Coast Guard multi-mission assets deployed to the Arctic are able to provide to mariners in distress,” said Rear Adm. Dan Abel, commander, 17th Coast Guard District. “The Coast Guard 17th District is committed to working with our federal, state, local and tribal partners along with industry to protect the safety of life at sea in Alaska and the Arctic.”
Press Release, July 14, 2014; Image: Dvids