Cruise Day 60

    Speed 1.3 knots (kts) (on station)

    Course 300° (WNW)

    Location Chukchi Shelf, ~121 nm WNW of Barrow, Alaska

    Depth 37 m

    GO DEEPER DISCUSSION: (see previous journal for the questions.)

    The streak is from an artificial satellite orbiting the Earth. I was making two-second exposures to capture the faint aurora and stars, and so the moving satellite left a short line indicating its path of movement through the sky for those two seconds while the stars stayed put. The satellite doesn’t have lights on it like an airplane, but reflects sunlight back to the Earth.


    I celebrated my birthday at sea today (the first time I’ve done so) with an action-packed agenda: GEOTRACES water sampling, multicore sampling, a helicopter arrival, editing movies and photos, writing my journal, and calling home to speak with my wife and son! We were ready to roll early this morning, and while the winds stayed brisk they eased off enough for us to conduct our sampling station today in the shallow waters of the Chukchi Shelf. We’ll depart from here this evening to head into the Bering Strait, where we hope to complete two more stations on our way back towards Dutch Harbor. Tonight we have two talks lined up for the last of our Wednesday night lectures.

    The helicopter flight today brought us two guests from the Coast Guard hierarchy who will ride with us back to Dutch Harbor. They flew out from Barrow on a Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter that is based in Kodiak, Alaska. I got to watch the operations from the top of the hangar, which is two decks above the helicopter pad towards the stern of the Healy. It was quite a perspective to watch this amazing piece of equipment heading towards the ship and landing beneath me. Despite roughly 20-knot winds the pilot brought in the aircraft very smoothly, landing without any hint of a bump or bounce. Once on deck, 4 Healy crew members went out on cue to connect hold-down straps to the still-running helicopter. After taking off the helicopter conducted a short training mission, lowering a rescue basket to the Healy’s deck from the aircraft’s hoist before retrieving it and heading off towards Barrow.

    Flight operations are controlled from a small room situated right above the helicopter pad atop the hangar called the HCO Shack. There is also a crew member giving the pilots signals from the flight deck while other crew members have standby roles such as firefighters, small boat crew for water rescue, fuelers, etc. Even after the helicopter departed they stayed at their flight quarters (positions) until about half an hour elapsed in case the helicopter ran into difficulty and had to return. Here’s a gallery of shots from the helicopter operations today- I hope you enjoy them!

    Helicopter Deck Sweep
    Before the helicopter arrived a line of crew members advanced along the flight deck in a line to look for any loose debris that could be swept up in the rotor wash.

    HCO Shack Flight Data
    Important flight parameters such as wind speed & direction along with the ship’s position and course are written on the inside of one of the HCO Shack windows for quick reference.

    HCO Shack
    Healy’s captain and officers in charge of flight operations control the action from the HCO Shack located on top of the hangar, right above the flight deck.

    US Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk Landing on USCGC Healy
    The Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk lands on USCGC Healy in the Chukchi Sea.

    Tie-downs for Helicopter on Healy
    Once the helicopter touched down four crew members secured it with tie-down straps.

    US Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk Pilot & Copilot
    The pilot and copilot stayed aboard the helicopter, and the rotors never stopped turning during its short visit to Healy today.

    Rainbow & US Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk
    There wasn’t a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, just a US Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter.

    Departing US Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk
    To depart, the helicopter lifted up an back from the flight deck. Once in the wind it drifted smoothly astern of Healy.

    Rescue Basket Training
    Before departing, the helicopter conducted a brief training by lowering a rescue basket to Healy’s flight deck. This basket can pluck people off ships in distress or retrieve rescue swimmers and victims from the water.


    During the helicopter opps the Healy turned to steam in the same direction as the wind. What is the reason behind this?

    Aloft Con web cam updated every hour
    Healy Track

    That's all for now. Best- Bill

    Chukchi Shelf, ~121 nm WNW of Barrow, Alaska
    Weather Summary
    Partly Cloudy, Fresh Breeze.
    26° F
    Wind Speed
    22 MPH
    Wind Chill