Artist’s sketchbook: Bringing ice to an ice breaker

Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy are currently supporting scientific research in the dynamic waters of the north on their Arctic West Summer 2013 deployment. As watchstsanders and scientists alike collaborate to collect vital scientific data, they are joined by artist Bob Selby.

This week’s sketchbook takes you inside Healy’s nerve center and even lets you off the polar ice breaker to get core samples and to harvest the ice. There’s just one week left until “Artist’s sketchbook” is complete so catch up on the journey while you can!

Nerve Center

Stephen Jackson

Nerve Center. Cloistered among banks of screens and keyboards one deck above Healy’s laboratories Donny Graham and Jeff Hardwick manage the network services for the science side of the operation. Both are civilian employees of the Coast Guard. Robert Thombley and Toby Graham work under contract to assure the quality and steady flow of data gathered by the apparatus and instruments aboard. Together with Stephen Jackson – posted in the lab below decks – they provide the technical support crucial to the mission.

Ice harvest

Bringing ice to an ice breaker. A cold rain pelts Dr. Ken Dunton of the University of Texas at Austin and his party of scientists as they harvest blocks of ice to take back to the ship’s labs. The Healy stands off in the background and the Coast Guard crew stands by as the scientists seek algae bearing ice that they hope will yield valuable information about the life cycles on the Chukchi Sea floor.

Core sample

Core sample. The deck crew prepares to send down a core sampling from the aft work deck located just outside Healy’s science labs. The torpedo-like design of the instrument allows it to plummet through the water column fast enough to drive itself into the sediment sufficient to capture a core sample of the ocean bottom. Radioactive testing of the sample will locate the level that identifies the era of nuclear testing in the early 1950s creating an effective “time stamp” for all the succeeding layers in the core.


Ian Salter. Dr. Ian Salter, currently a visiting professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, can be found laboring over his apparatus at all hours of the day and night in one of Healy’s starboard laboratories. A native of Sheffield, England, Salter is on the faculty at the University of Pierre Et Marie Curie in Banyuls Sur Mer, France.


Dissection. Graduate student Austin Fox makes a deft incision along the back of a 3.5-inch Arctic Cod in order to harvest ear bones the size of a flower seed. Under the microscope in one of Healy’s labs, the number of rings will reveal the age of the animal and much about its location and diet. Youchao Yan and Christian Johnson look on.

lab work

Scientists at work. Dr. Carin Ashjian of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on the right and her assistant, Heather MacEachen of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, study Zooplankton in Healy’s main laboratory.

Bob Selby enjoyed a 20-year career as a staff illustrator at The Providence Journal. During that time, he was the recipient of numerous awards including a Fulbright Grant to research the history of caricature in Spain. Following this, he embarked on a career as a freelance illustrator, painter and sculptor. He has taught at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and currently teaches full time at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt. His art career has garnered awards and recognition from The Associated Press, the Society of Illustrators in New York and the Society of Newspaper Design. He is currently underway aboard Healy to document its crew’s activities and missions.

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