97 feet above sea level, in a small room on top of a pole, Tahnee Zacanno looks out over the Arctic sea ice. With the throttle in one hand and the wheel in the other, she guides the 420 foot icebreaker Healy through the network of tough ridges, flat ice sheets, and small water openings. This is “Aloft Con”, the highest point on the ship and maybe the most peaceful. The calm atmosphere up here betrays the drama at deck level as two­ meter-thick ice is splintered and crushed by the ships colossal weight; the rattling of the console is the only evidence that makes it as high as Aloft Con.

The Healy is a US Coastguard ship who’s purpose is science. Right now, in early June, 46 scientists are aboard investigating the sea ice and the biology below. To do this, they need to go all over the Chukchi Sea during thick ice conditions. Tahnee is part of the team of ice drivers who make this possible by charting and executing the quickest route through the ice. Sometimes though, even with the drivers’ best efforts, the ice remains stubbornly resistant.

About The Author

Ben Harden

Ben is a polar oceanographer and meteorologist working at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is also a multimedia producer making radio and video programs. On this expedition Ben will be documenting the science and life aboard the Healy in a range of mediums.

One Response

  1. Bob hogan

    What a gift these journeys are for we civilians. The book is a great beginning to this adventure. thank who is ever running the joint for this.


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