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Diesel-Powered Coast Guard Icebreaker

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB-20)

Jason Thompson
Dec 1, 2010
Photographers: Courtesy Of The United States Coast Guard
The USCGC Healy (WAGB-20) is the United States' newest and most capable polar icebreaker. Thanks to its diesel-electric propulsion system, this ship is able to break through 51/2 feet of ice at 2.6 knots-continuously. Hotstart engine oil heaters keep the ship's operating temperatures constant when underway, and even while at port. Five hydraulically controlled cranes provide 100 percent coverage of the working decks-providing logistics services in extreme conditions. The Healy was built at the legendary Avondale Shipyard on the Mississippi River in Louisiana, which is now owned by Northrop Grumman.
Photo 2/5   |   1012dp Diesel Power Icebreaker cutter Healy Top Shot
The Healy was named after Captain Michael A. Healy, who patrolled 20,000 miles of the Alaskan coast in the late 19th century. He operated in the same way the Coast Guard does today by protecting natural resources and trade routes, carrying out search and rescue missions, and pursuing scientific endeavors. When commercial fishing nearly wiped out Alaska's seal and whale population, Healy and Sierra Club founder, John Muir, introduced reindeer from Siberia so people wouldn't go hungry. Today, the Healy follows in these footsteps enforcing treaties, conducting scientific experiments, and rescuing and escorting ships-even when the temperature drops below -50 degrees.
Mil-Spec: Uscgc Healy Wagb-20
  • Length: 420 feet (largest ship in the Coast Guard)
  • Beam: 82 feet
  • Draft: 29 feet
  • Displacement: 16,400 LT (36,736,000 pounds)
  • Endurance: 16,000 nautical miles at 12.5 knots (65 days between replenishment)
  • Propulsion: Diesel-electric (four V-12 Sulzer diesel engines: 12Z AU40S, AC/AC Cyclo converters, and two Westinghouse AC Synchronous motors)
  • Ship control: Twin screws, twin rudders, 2,500hp bow thruster with Alstom dynamic positioning system power: 30,000 hp and 1,212,000 lb-ft of torque
  • Cruising speed: 12.5 knots
  • Maximum speed: 17 knots
  • Icebreaking rating: 41/2 feet at 3 knots continuous
  • Observed capability: 51/2 feet at 2.6 knots continuous, up to 8 feet when ramming or backing up
  • Accommodations: 19 officers, 12 chief petty officers, 54 enlisted, 35 scientists, 15 surge, 2 visitors
  • Builder: Litton-Avondale Industries
Support Craft:
  • Helicopters: Two HH-65 Dolphins
  • Boats: 38-foot cargo boat, 38-foot arctic survey boat, and two 23-foot rigid-hull inflatables


United States Coast Guard
USCG Icebreaker Science Operations