After spending four months in the Arctic, USCG icebreaker returns to Seattle

SEATTLE -- The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard's largest ship, the Cutter Healy, returned to its home port in Seattle Friday, following a four-month deployment to the Arctic.

This year, the Healy crew completed three science missions, conducting physical and biological research in the Arctic Ocean.

"A lot of sampling off the bottom recovering things out of the mud on the sea floor and comparing them to previous samplings that we did, so we can understand how the climate, environment and ecosystem is changing over there over time," said Capt. Greg Tlapa, U.S. Coast Guard.

The Healy is the only U.S. military surface vessel that's capable of operating in the Arctic's ice-covered waters.

It can also help in a variety of Coast Guard operations including search and rescue missions, ship escorts, environmental protection and law enforcement.