The Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) leads a team of 52 scientists evaluating operational technologies in the Arctic aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Healy Aug. 8-30.
The research focuses on improving boat operations, testing communications performance and reliability, enhancing navigational safety information availability and observing the movement of oil near the ice edge. Multiple unmanned technologies, including autonomous underwater vehicles and remote operated vehicles, are employed to help with the evaluation projects.
In addition to the RDC’s tests, the project staff will support scientists from 12 partner organizations with their own objectives. The science team includes representatives from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, National Ice Center and Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security-related Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Program. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy and District 17 are among Coast Guard units participating.
The Arctic’s harsh environment and lack of infrastructure challenge Coast Guard operational capabilities. The RDC has conducted research in the Arctic since the 1970s, but has stepped up its Arctic work over the last eight years as increased vessel traffic and human activity in the area heightened the importance of Coast Guard operational readiness in that bitter and remote environment.