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The decades-long planning for a U.S. icebreaking vessel dedicated to Arctic marine science reached its goal with the entry into service of the UGCGC Healy, a polar research vessel operated by the U.S. Coast Guard for the U.S. science community. The ship is named for Captain Michael A. Healy, a legendary figure of Alaskan history who served as commanding officer of the U.S. Revenue Cutters Corwin (1884–1885) and Bear (1886–1895).

Healy is 128 m long, 25 m wide, displaces 14,900 metric tons, and traverses up to 1.4 m ice at 1.65 m s−1, propelled by two 11.1-MW AC synchronous motors fed from DC diesel electric engines through cycloconverters. Thus, Healy is more powerful and somewhat larger than the German polar research vessel Polarstern or the Canadian icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent. Healy's power system responds quickly to the load changes common in icebreaking. The ship has a conventional icebreaker bow. The hull provides a sea-kindly ride and more stable work conditions in open water than do the U.S. Coast Guard Polar-class icebreakers. The ship is designed to work in any Arctic season.