The USCG Healy docked north of the city center on the morning of October 1. The icebreaker first time made port call to Tromsø in 2005. Photo courtesy social media

USCG Healy docks in Tromsø after joint voyage with Norwegian Coast Guard northeast of Svalbard

The US Coast Guard vessel sailed in formation with Norway’s KV Svalbard from the ice-covered waters near Russia’s Franz Josef Land en route to conduct joint exercises in the Barents Sea.
October 01, 2023


Two large Coast Guard vessels are Sunday morning docked next to each other in Tromsø.

The Healy has sailed a month-long mission across the Arctic, encircling the Siberian shelf from Kodiak in Alaska, via the East Siberian Sea to the high Arctic north of Franz Josef Land and Svalbard.

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Here, the US icebreaker met with KV Svalbard - Norway’s icebreaking capable coast guard ship.

Without detailing the scoop of the mission, the US Coast Guard writes on Facebook that “the Healy and the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Svalbard sail in formation while en route to conduct joint exercises in northern Norway in the Barents Sea.”

In the High Arctic, the Americans worked on a mission with the US National Science Foundation to recover, service, and replace an array of nine long-term subsurface moorings that encircled the Siberian shelf from the Eurasian Basin to the East Siberian Sea. 

The ship is the largest and most technologically advanced American icebreaker, as well as the US Coast Guard’s largest ship. The Coast Guard is responsible for maritime law enforcement. It is part of the U.S Armed Forces.



The USCG Healy and KV Svalbard in the ice northeast of Svalbard. Photo: US Coast Guard on Facebook


Science, though, was not the only aim of the voyage. A group photo taken on the aft deck and posted on Facebook shows officers from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, the British Royal Navy and the Norwegian Coast Guard.

As previously reported by the Barents Observer, the Russians kept a close eye on the Healy while sailing north of Siberia.

The KV Svalbard seen from USCG Healy in Tromsø Sunday. Photo courtesy social media

The voyage was also followed by a range of Russian military activities.

Only a few days after the Healy came into the Chukchi Sea, the Russian Pacific Fleet launched a major exercise in the area. According to the Navy, the drill is named Finval-2023 and included several surface vessels, as well as submarines, support ships, aircraft and helicopters.

The Pacific Fleet announced live shootings both in the Chukchi Sea as well as in two areas in the East Siberian Sea when Healy sailed north of the Siberia Coast in international waters.

From the high Arctic Ocean, the Healy and the KV Svalbard sailed south between Russia’s Victoria Island and Norway’s Kvitøya.

Shortly after, Russia announced military activity in a huge area west of Franz Josef Land.

NOTAM-warning for the waters is active until October 4th, and partly overlaps into Norwegian Exclusive Economic Zone east of Kong Karls Land (part of Svalbard archipelago).


Russian military issued warnings for a large area east and west of Franz Josef Land this week. The western red-marked area partly overlaps into Norwegian EEZ east of Svalbard. Source:





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