George Hademenos: Home Sweet Home…at Least for the Next Two Weeks, August 14, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

George Hademenos

Aboard R/V Tommy Munro

July 19 – 27, 2022

Mission: Gulf of Mexico Summer Groundfish Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Eastern Gulf of Mexico

Date: August 14, 2022

There was no doubt about my excitement of being named as a NOAA Teacher at Sea and the opportunity to immerse myself in marine science and participate in scientific research. But the one aspect of this experience that I particularly looked forward to was being able to do this on a ship at sea. The ship would serve as a classroom like no other…a classroom where I could learn as a student and yet serve as a basis for me to develop instructional activities and projects for my students as a teacher. The classroom, as I described in the prior post, was originally scheduled to be NOAA Ship Oregon II but eventually turned out to be the R/V Tommy Munro.

While both ships were equipped with the facilities, resources and infrastructure required to conduct the samplings necessary for the survey, the main difference was that the Oregon II was part of the NOAA fleet of research vessels while the R/V Tommy Munro was not. Rather, the R/V Tommy Munro is operated under the management of the University of Southern Mississippi. Of course, when a ship is named after a person, there is always a sense of interest about the individual and what background, experience, and contributions to ocean sciences warranted such an honor. Tommy Munro has a compelling biography and can be read by accessing the following link:

http://www.msimhalloffame.org/tommy-munro.html

It was a thrill seeing the R/V Tommy Munro for the first time on Tuesday, July 19 in preparation of my upcoming cruise.

a collage of two images. on the left, a view of R/V Tommy Munro tied up at the dock, looking toward the bow. The name is painted prominently in black and blue. At right, a view of a life preserver mounted on an outer a wall of the ship. The life preserver also reads R/V Tommy Munro.
The ship exterior and a life preserver aboard the R/V Tommy Munro.

As I arrived at the docked ship, I was first met by John Z., the ship’s cook, who treated me to a tour of the vessel. I know you are just as anxious to see the various spaces inside the ship so come on aboard and let me take you on a tour. The first stop was my living quarters.

A collage of two images. On the left, a view of a closed door (simple, wooden, with a knob, could be in a house.) Several pieces of laminated paper are taped to the door. One reads: State Quarters 2. The next are the two pages of the Emergency Station Bill (not close enough to read). On the right, a photo looking inside the stateroom, where we can see four bunks.
My living quarters while aboard the ship.

I was assigned to State Quarters 2 which consisted of 4 bunks. My bunk was on the bottom to the left as you can see my belongings on the bed. Interestingly enough, it would turn out that 3 individuals were assigned to the quarters which meant that the upper bunk above mine was open. This was important because if the upper bunk was occupied, that would mean that I would have no other place to store my luggage than with me on the bed. So the upper bunk served as storage for the luggage from all three of us, giving us much need space to rest comfortably in our bunks.

The next stop on our tour involves meals on the cruise. The dining room is a table where all formal meals were served and offered an opportunity for those around the table to engage in conversation and watch television. It was not required for anyone wanting a meal to eat at the dining room table but it did offer a unique and comforting diversion from the long hours and hard work exerted while collecting samples for the survey.

view of a table in a narrow room. there are bar stools fixed in place around the table. we can see a microwave, cabinets, a small shelf with a coffee maker, a TV, and the stairwell.
The dining room table where all formal meals were served.

Of course, the dining room would not have much of a purpose were it not for a kitchen to prepare the meals.

a collage of two photos. on the left, a view of the kitchen, looking much like a simple apartment kitchen with wooden cabinets, an oven, a range, a refrigerator. on the right, a view of a pantry and a counter space.
This is the kitchen where all formal meals are prepared (right) and the storage area/table space where meals are prepared.

The picture on the left is the cooking station with the stove and oven where the meals are cooked and the picture on the right is where the meals are prepared. These two spaces appear to be very small areas and they are but there was enough room for the vast amount of groceries purchased prior to each cruise. I remember speaking to John Z. the cook about the grocery shopping for an upcoming cruise and he relayed to me that when he returns from shopping, it takes him approximately 3 hours to put up all of the groceries!

The tour continues with the areas of the ship dedicated to the research conducted during the cruise.

The first area is referred to as the wet lab – the space where the samples collected from each sampling are processed, and measurements are recorded and uploaded to a database.

a collage of two photos. on the left, we see wooden cabinets and a metal counter, a large sink, a computer monitor, a small window. on the right, a line of refrigerators or freezers to store samples.
The work area of the wet lab is depicted in the photo to the left while the samples storage area is shown on the right photo.

Just located across the hallway from the wet lab is the dry lab, the area with several computers allowing the scientists to track the motion of the ship, confirm its arrival at each sampling site, and store data acquired by the Secchi disk, the CTD array of sensors unique to each sampling site, and the species analysis of marine life species collected during each sampling.

view of a room with wooden cabinets and countertops, desk chairs, storage boxes, computers and a printer
This is the dry lab is where the computational analysis from each sampling is conducted.

As we near the end of the tour of the R/V Tommy Munro, let’s proceed from the wet and dry lab to a flight of stairs to the upper deck of the vessel to the captain’s deck.

the bridge of the ship. we can see monitors, control panels, logs, and the windows of the bridge.
This is the captain’s deck of the R/V Tommy Munro.

The captain’s deck is equivalent to the cockpit of an airplane where the captain and his crew navigate the vessel to the assortment of sampling sites in coordination with the science team.

We wrap up our tour of the R/V Tommy Munro from atop the upper deck with the view from the stern of the ship. This was a spot that I found myself many times, particularly in the evening, as I took in the scenic views of the surrounding seas.

a collage of two photos, each showing the same view out the ship's stern (back) with rigging to deploy nets. both of these photos were taken at sunset on different evenings, and the setting sun is centered behind the ship.
Views from the upper deck toward the stern of the ship.

In this installment of my exercise of the Ocean Literacy Framework, I would like to ask you to respond to three questions about the third essential principle:

The ocean is a major influence of weather and climate,

presented in a Padlet accessed by the following link:

https://tinyurl.com/kkue3uru

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers – the questions serve not as an opportunity to answer yes or no, or to get answers right or wrong; rather, these questions serve as an opportunity not only to assess what you know or think about the scope of the principle but also to learn, explore, and investigate the demonstrated principle. If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please indicate so in the blog and I would be glad to answer your questions and initiate a discussion.

George Hademenos: Come Sail Away…to Conduct Science Research at Sea, August 10, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

George Hademenos

Aboard R/V Tommy Munro

July 19 – 27, 2022

Mission: Gulf of Mexico Summer Groundfish Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Eastern Gulf of Mexico

Date: August 10, 2022

Long time no hear from, right? The explanation is quite simple…there was no Wifi on my research vessel. I was definitely writing about my experience and taking pictures of my observations but I had no way to share the information with you in a blog post. Now that I have been home for several weeks, I have been working hard to complete my blog (6 posts in particular) which are in the process of being completed and am now ready to begin posting.

In a prior post, I described my participation in the Teacher at Sea program and how I plan to translate my experience and observations into classroom activities and projects for my students. In fact. As I prepared for my upcoming cruise assignment, I developed a Google Site that not only provides more detail about my upcoming experience as a Teacher at Sea educator, but also instructional resources and project ideas related to ocean sciences. What I would like to do in this post is talk about the opportunity presented to me and all other educators in the Teacher at Sea program.

Teacher at Sea Program

The Teacher at Sea program is a unique Teacher Research Experience (TRE) opportunity managed by NOAA that allows teachers to learn by doing rather than by reading about it. In these types of experiences, the teacher is placed with a team of research scientists and immersed into their scientific work, serving as an honorary member of the team. The TRE provides the teacher with an opportunity to not only conduct the research, but to also ask questions, engage in detailed investigations about aspects of the research, and most importantly, distill these experiences into lessons, activities and projects for classroom implementation to the benefit of my students. I would strongly encourage my educator colleagues to explore the Teacher at Sea program

https://teacheratsea.noaa.gov/

and should you qualify, please consider applying for this unique educator experience.

SEAMAP

I would like to now speak about the research I would be involved in during my assigned cruise. I was assigned to participate in Leg 1 of the Summer Groundfish Survey conducted in the Gulf of Mexico in collaboration with NOAA Fisheries as part of SEAMAP (Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program)

https://www.gsmfc.org/seamap.php

The survey consists of a series of collected samples of marine life at positions determined by SEAMAP to make decisions about damaged marine ecosystems, depleted populations and destruction of habitats. Exactly what was entailed in the collected samplings will be described in an upcoming post.

Assigned Cruise

Cruises designed to engage in SEAMAP Surveys are seasonal (generally occurring in the Summer and Fall from April to November) and are typically executed aboard NOAA vessels in legs or segments consisting of 2 – 3 weeks with cruises occurring over 3 – 4 legs per survey. My assigned cruise underwent a change in schedule and vessel from my initial assignment. My original assigned cruise was scheduled as Leg 2 of the Summer Groundfish Survey aboard the NOAA Ship Oregon II from June 20, 2022 departing from Galveston, TX to July 3, 2022 arriving in Pascagoula, MS for a 15-day cruise. However, due to maintenance issues, the Oregon II was not seaworthy for the scheduled cruise which required a replacement vessel. The replacement vessel was the R/V Tommy Munro. There is a lot to say and pictures to show about the R/V Tommy Munro which will be the subject of the next blog post.

In this installment of my exercise of the Ocean Literacy Framework, I would like to ask you to respond to three questions about the second essential principle:

The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.

presented in a Padlet accessed by the following link:

https://tinyurl.com/h2stuf44

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers – the questions serve not as an opportunity to answer yes or no, or to get answers right or wrong; rather, these questions serve as an opportunity not only to assess what you know or think about the scope of the principle but also to learn, explore, and investigate the demonstrated principle. If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please indicate so in the blog and I would be glad to answer your questions and initiate a discussion.

Oktay Ince: Farewell to NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, for now! August 8, 2022

NOAA Teacher At Sea
Oktay Ince
Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
June 20- July 1, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie
Date: Monday, August 8, 2022

Latitude: 40.08°N
Longitude: 83.08°W
Elevation: 902 ft

Columbus, OHIO Weather
Humidity:
74%
Wind Speed: SW 8 mph
Barometer: 30.06 (1017.0 mb)
Dewpoint: 72°F (22°C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi
Heat Index: 85°F (29°C)

Science and Technology Log

65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist (World Economic Forum).”

I can’t help but wonder what types of careers and jobs will be available for our students. However, I can speculate that marine science would have a huge piece on this “never-before-existed” future job pool when you consider seventy percent of our Earth’s surface is covered with ocean and among it eighty percent of it unmapped, unobserved and unexplored, according to NOAA. There are many different careers available within NOAA and I believe there will be many more new careers available for the future generations. 

You may wonder and ask why oceans are still unexplored. One answer comes from Dr. Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He states that one of the biggest challenges of ocean exploration comes down to physics. In the depth of the ocean, there is zero visibility, extremely cold temperatures, and crushing amounts of pressure. He also states that “ In some ways, it’s a lot easier to send people into space than it is to send people to the bottom of the ocean”. It is hard to fathom what it looks, and feels like under the water, at least for me as a non-swimmer. 

With technological advancements, who knows what mysteries will be solved in the world of oceans in the future? I think it is important to show our students to know the unknown world of oceans and inspire them to take careers related to marine science so that we can know more about our blue planet. Without knowing our oceans, there would be no future for our own existence. 

Personal Log

Oktay, in his Teacher at Sea hat and t-shirt, poses for a photo on the flying bridge of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson at sunset
Last Day at the NOAA’s Ship Thomas Jefferson

It’s been a great learning experience while at sea for 12 days. I have learned so much, met incredible women and men, and made awesome friends. 

As a STEM educator, the reason I wanted to apply for this opportunity is because I wanted to bring marine science into my school and community. By training, most of the time I spent time in various labs focusing on genetic studies using many biotechnological tools during my graduate study. But, it wasn’t until my NOAA experience to involve marine science research in the field. Much of my marine science knowledge comes from theory, reading books/ articles, or watching documentaries. This lack of experiential knowledge put me in a position where my students are also learning it from textbooks. However, now thanks to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, I am confidently bringing any resources or tools related to the ocean, and atmosphere to my students. My plan is to create interdisciplinary project-based learning opportunities that involve challenging questions related to marine science. 

Thank you NOAA Teacher at Sea Program for allowing me to participate once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and thank you NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson crew for hosting me with great hospitality, and allowing me to learn more about marine science. 

Did you know?

Sometimes NOAA’s ships are open to the public for tours. In fact, I am planning to take my students to NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson sometime in September while it is still in Great Lakes.

Michael Gutiérrez Santiago: ¡Una aventura en alta mar me espera!, 4 de agosto de 2022

Read this post in English: Michael Gutiérrez Santiago: An Adventure on the High Seas Awaits! August 4, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Michael Gutiérrez Santiago

NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

agosto 12 – agosto 25 de2022

Misión: Sondeo de Merluza del Pacífico

Área Geográfica de Expedición: Costa de Washington

Fecha: 4 de agosto de 2022

Introducción

Una foto de primer plano de Michael frente a una bandera puertorriqueña. Lleva un sombrero de paja, gafas de sol y una mochila.
¡Saludos desde Puerto Rico!

¡Saludos a todos desde Isabela, Puerto Rico! estoy muy contento de que te unas a esta travesía conmigo en alta mar. Mi nombre es Michael Gutiérrez Santiago y en una semana estaré a bordo de la embarcación NOAA Bell M. Shimada participando de una expedición junto a los científicos de la NOAA realizando un sondeo de merluza del pacífico. Viajaré a Washington, lo cual son 10 horas aproximadamente para comenzar esta travesía. Espero que te unas y seas parte de esta expedición conmigo.

Estoy muy contento y agradecido de formar parte de esta experiencia. Recuerdo la mañana del 2019 que conocí sobre el programa de Teacher at Sea, estaba asombrado que educadores podían tener la oportunidad de estar en una expedición en alta mar con científicos y tripulantes de la NOAA. Sin dudar solicité y fui aceptado en el 2020. Como todos saben, el COVID-19 puso una pausa en el mundo, pero luego de dos años aquí estamos, ¡listos para abordar!

El vivir en Puerto Rico me ha hecho enamorarme de las playas, los bosques, cuevas, ríos junto a su flora y fauna. Es por esto que decidí realizar un Bachillerato en Ciencias Ambientales, para poder conocer más sobre lo que nos rodea y como poder conservarlo. Esta pasión al medio ambiente me ha llevado a compartir mis conocimientos a personas que me rodean y me di cuenta de que no hay mejor manera de conservar nuestros recursos ambientales que a través de la educación. Así que decidí certificarme como maestro de ciencias a nivel secundario.

vista cercana de una mano que sostiene una estrella de mar bajo el agua
Estrella de mar en Puerto Mosquito, Vieques P.R.

El Comienzo de Grandes Cosas

A comienzos del 2017 me uní al EcoExploratorio: Museos de Ciencias de Puerto Rico, donde logré llevar la educación científica y la conservación ambiental a todo la Isla. Fue aquí mi escuela, donde aprendí a como ser un educador, tuve la oportunidad de llevar charlas educativas a diversas partes de la Isla, realizar talleres, webinars y ser parte de otras exhibiciones. El EcoExploratorio recibe una visita anual de 300,000 personas, teniendo la oportunidad de conozcan sobre que nos rodea y como conservarlo. Por otra parte, el EcoExploratorio se enfoca en la preparación de eventos atmosféricos como huracanes y eventos naturales como terremotos.

Actualmente soy profesor de Ciencias Ambientales a 12mo grado en la Escuela Abelardo Martínez Otero en Arecibo Puerto Rico. Logramos este año realizar diversas actividades, laboratorios y experimentos gracias a la excelente calidad de estudiantes que tuve. A pesar de que las limitaciones por el COVID-19, esos estudiantes dieron el máximo, teniendo así una excelente clase de Ciencias Ambientales.

este es un collage de cuatro fotos panorámicas de diferentes clases de estudiantes parados afuera, todos sosteniendo o tratando de sostener un globo negro largo
Laboratorio: Energía Solar

Ciencia en Alta Mar

Mi tiempo en el mar será en el océano pacífico, a bordo de la embarcación NOAA Bell M. Shimada en la segunda etapa del sondeo de merluza del pacífico, donde estaré trabajando y aprendiendo de Beth Phillips Chief Scientist y bióloga de NOAA Fisheries Service y el equipo de científicos. Algunos de mis objetivos en esta expedición es compartir lo aprendido en esta expedición con ustedes a través de los blogs, proporcionar datos vitales para ayudar a gestionar la población costera migratoria de merluza del Pacifico, llevar a cabo una calibración entre embarcaciones con el barco de la Guardia Costera canadiense Sir John Franklin en coordinación con los científicos del DFO para garantizar que los datos sean comparables para el 2023 y puedan combinarse para la evaluación de la población, recoger muestras de agua y plancton en la Línea Hidrográfica de Newport, muestreo de eufáusidos, la recopilación de datos oceanográficos y la recopilación de datos acústicos de banda ancha.

Para mí es un honor y un privilegio poder ser parte del programa Teacher at Sea. El poder ser parte de esta expedición es un sueño hecho realidad. Pondré todos mis esfuerzos para hacer orgulloso a Puerto Rico, a mi familia, maestros, estudiantes y al programa de Teacher at Sea. Me encantaría que fueran parte de esta expedición, mis blogs serán en inglés y español para poder llegar a todos ustedes. En confianza me encantaría que me hagan llegar sus preguntas o me dejen saber que ha sido lo más que le ha llamado la atención.

¡Que comience la aventura!

Michael Gutiérrez Santiago: An Adventure on the High Seas Awaits! August 4, 2022

Lea esta publicación en español: Michael Gutiérrez Santiago: ¡Una aventura en alta mar me espera!, 4 de agosto de 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Michael Gutiérrez Santiago

NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

August 12 – August 25, 2022

Mission: Pacific Hake Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Coastal Washington

Date: August 4, 2022

Introduction

A close-up photo of Michael in front of a Puerto Rican flag. He's wearing a straw hat, sunglasses, and a backpack.
Greetings from Puerto Rico!

Greetings to all from Isabela, Puerto Rico! I am so glad you are joining me on this journey on the high seas. My name is Michael Gutiérrez Santiago and, in a week, I will be aboard the NOAA Bell M. Shimada in an expedition with NOAA scientists on the Pacific Hake Survey. I will travel to Washington, which is approximately 10 hours to begin this journey. I hope you will join and be a part of this expedition with me.

I am very happy and grateful to be part of this experience. I remember in 2019 that I learned about the Teacher at Sea program, I was amazed that educators could have the opportunity to be on an expedition on the high seas with NOAA scientists and crew members. Without hesitation I applied and was accepted in 2020. As you all know COVID-19 put the world on pause, but after two years here we are, ready to board!

Living in Puerto Rico made me fall in love with the beaches, forests, caves, rivers along with its flora and fauna. That is why I decided to do a Bachelor Degree on Environmental Sciences, to learn more about what surrounds us and how to conserve it. This passion for the environment has led me to share my knowledge with people around me and I realized that there is no better way to conserve our environmental resources than through education. Therefore, I decided to get certified as a high school science teacher.

close-up view of a hand holding a sea star underwater
Starfish in Mosquito Pier, Vieques P.R.

My early beginnings

At the beginning of 2017 I joined the EcoExploratorio: Science Museums of Puerto Rico, where I was an informal educator teaching science and and environmental conservation to the entire Island. It was here that I learned how to be an educator, I had the opportunity host workshops, webinars and be part of other exhibitions. The EcoExploratorio receives an annual visit of 300,000 people, having the opportunity to educate about what surrounds us and how to conserve it. On the other hand, the EcoExploratorio focuses on preparing for atmospheric events such as hurricanes and natural events such as earthquakes.

I am currently a 12th grade Environmental Science teacher at the Abelardo Martínez Otero School in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. This year we managed to carry out various activities, laboratories, and experiments thanks to the excellent quality of students I had. Despite the limitations we had due to COVID-19, these students gave their best, thus having an excellent Environmental Science class.

this is a collage of four panoramic photos of different classes of students standing outside, all holding up or trying to hold up a long black balloon
Solar energy laboratory with solar balloon

Science on the high seas

My time at sea will be in the Pacific Ocean, aboard the NOAA Bell M. Shimada in the second leg of the Pacific Hake Survey where I will be working and learning from chief scientist Beth Phillips, biologist at NOAA Fisheries, and rest of the research team. Some of my goals on this expedition are to share what I am going to learn on this expedition with you via blogs, provide vital data to help manage the migratory coastal population of Pacific hake, conduct an Inter-Vessel Calibration with Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir John Franklin in coordination with DFO scientists to ensure data is comparable in 2023 and can be combined for population assessment, collect water and plankton samples at the Newport Hydrographic Line, euphausiid sampling , collecting oceanographic data, and collecting broadband acoustic data.

For me it is an honor and a privilege to be part of the Teacher at Sea program. Being able to be part of this expedition is a dream come true. I will put all my efforts to make Puerto Rico, my family, teachers, students, and the Teacher at Sea program proud. I would love for you to be part of this expedition; my blogs will be in English and Spanish to reach all of you. It would be great to send your questions or let me know what has caught your attention the most.

Let the adventure begin!

Laura Grimm: What Makes the Great Lakes So Great?, August 3, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: August 3, 2022

Weather Data from my home office in Dalton, Ohio

Latitude: 40 45.5’ N

Longitude: 081 41.5’ W

Sky Conditions: Partly Cloudy

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9 mph with gusts up to 23 mph

Wind Direction: SW

Air Temperature: 87 F (31 C)

Heat Index: 92 F (33 C)

Relative Humidity: 57%

Science and Technology Log

What is under all that water? 

Have you ever wondered what the seabed (lakebed) made of?  This information is important for several reasons: knowing where to anchor, pipeline &/or structure construction, habitat, dredging, etc.  Information about the sediments can be found on navigational charts.  Periodically, hydrographers need to take bottom samples to update these charts.  To do this, they bring the ship to a halt and drop a spring-loaded sampler to the seafloor.  The sampler snaps shut, capturing a sample of the bottom substrate.  The sediments that are brought aboard are analyzed according to grain size which range from clay (< 0.002 mm) to stones (4.0 mm and larger).

  • a spring-loaded trap attached to a rope, resting on deck
  • two scientists wearing hard hats and life vests prepare to lower the bottom sampler. one is holding on to the rope attached to the sampler, while the other directs the sampler with a pole or a hook
  • Laura, wearing a hard hat and life vest, pulls on the rope attached to the bottom sampler (strung over a pulley)
  • On the top of the chart is a ruler measuring 0-100 millimeters. 0-4 mm is classified as "granules," 4-8 mm as "small pebbles," 8-16 mm as "medium pebbles," 16-32 mm as "large pebbles," 32-64 mm as "very large pebbles," and 64-100 mm as "small cobbles." An inset box notes that 128-256 mm is classified as "large cobbles" and anything larger than 256 mm are "boulders." In the lower part of the chart, there are nine boxes with photos of grains of different sizes, topped by a scale ranging from 0-2000 micrometers. At the low end of the range, 0-125 micrometers is classified as "very fine sand," 125-250 micrometers as "fine sand," 250-500 micrometers as "coarse sand," 1000-2000 micrometers as "very coarse sand." and inset box notes that 3.9-62 micrometers is classified as "silt."
  • Bottom Sample Sediment Classification Tables. Sediment Size Classification, with Grain Size in millimeters: Clay - < 0.002 mm. Silt - 0.002-0.0625 mm. Sand (fine) - 0.00625-0.25 mm. Sand (medium) - 0.25-0.5 mm. Sand (coarse) - 0.5-2.0 mm. Gravel- 2.0-4.0 mm. Pebbles-4.0-64.0 mm. Cobble-64.0-256.0 mm. Boulder- >256.0 mm. Stone - 4.0-256.0+

What is it called to drive a ship?  The action of driving a ship is probably most often called piloting the ship. You may also hear people use the words steer, navigate, guide, maneuver, control, direct, captain, or shepherd.  Whatever you want to call it – I was super excited to pilot the ship.  I was also a bit nervous because it is so big!  Maneuvering a 208’ vessel seemed a bit daunting.

I first got some excellent tutoring by Helmsman AB Kinnett and Conning Officer ENS Brostowski.  All I needed to do was to make a 180ᵒ turn.  How difficult could it be?  I needed to take the ship out of the navigation system (commonly called, Nav Nav), go from autopilot to manual steering, follow the Conning Officer’s rudder directions, do some fine tuning, switch from manual steering to autopilot, and turn on the Nav Nav system.  Easy shmeezy! 

My legs were shaking just a bit.  I guess I did okay.  Someone did call up from the plot room and ask, “Just who is driving the ship?”  Haha.  They calmed down once they learned it was just “the teacher”. 

  • Laura, wearing a Teacher at Sea hat, stands at the helm of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. To her right is AB Kinnett. To her left is ENS Brostowski pointing at a screen.
  • Laura at the helm (now we can see the wheel.) AB Kinnett and ENS Brostowski look on.
  • Laura stands at the helm (the wheel is out view.) ENS Brostowski, standing behind her with arms folded, issues instructoins.
  • Laura, at the helm (wheel visible), looks upward and reaches for something (out of frame) with her right hand. AB Kinnett stands in the background but looks directly at the camera.
  • screenshot of a navigation screen that displays the recent track of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson as lines on a nautical map

Parallel Parking

We came into the Port of Cleveland on July 22.  The crew did a super job of parking!  (I am sure “parking” is not the correct term.)  They used the windlass and ropes to secure the ship to the port (on the starboard side) and then put the gangway in place.  Don’t forget to take out the garbage!

  • view of Cleveland over the bow of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
  • the interior of the ship is mostly dark in this photo, but we can see the lighthouse through the circle of porthole.
  • view of the stadium from the water
  • view over the bow of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. three crewmembers, wearing hard hats and life vests, prepare to throw ropes over the rail as the ship pulls up alongside a dock. tall buildings of downtown Cleveland are visible in the background.
  • three crewmembers, wearing hard hats and life jackets, operate the windlass on the bow deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.
  • a crane swings the gangway (a ramp with railings) over the side of the ship, ready to lower it into place.
  • crane lowers the gangway into place; crewmembers wearing hard hats and life jackets pull on ropes to help maneavuer it
  • gangway, still attached to crane, in place, connecting the deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to the dock.
  • crane lifts a set of six steps, with railings, in the air. a davit of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is visible in the background.
  • the steps lead up from the deck to the top of the gangway, which then ramps down to the dock. the fast rescue boat (stowed on board) is visible in the background.
  • crane lifting a crate filled with blue and black trash bags
Laura, wearing a Teacher at Sea hat, and four crewmembers, wearing hard hats, pose for a photo on the dock, in front of stacks of large coils of metal wiring
On dry land after 19 days!  This crew was amazing!  From left to right: 1AE Perry, ENS Castillo, TAS Grimm, BGL Bayliss, AB Thompson. 

Personal Log

In late April 2022, I was informed by the NOAA Teacher at Sea office that I would sail aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson on a hydrographic survey of Lake Erie in July.  Truthfully, I didn’t know what hydrography entailed – but I was familiar with Lake Erie.

I grew up only 20 miles from the Port of Cleveland.  As a child, my family spent a week each summer on Middle Bass Island where I learned to swim and fish for walleye and perch.  I was a sun-kissed, towheaded child that liked to catch frogs and talk with insects.  My daughter and I vacationed on Kelleys Island for many summers.  I even took an oceanography class on Gibraltar Island.  I was very excited to learn more about the Lake of my childhood.

  • a satellite map of the Great Lakes, with each lake labeled. no other political features are labeled.
  • a political map of the Great Lakes showing the lakes and the surrounding states and provinces. A dashed white line through Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario marks the division between U.S. and Canadian waters.
  • a political map of the Great Lakes, with the outline of the Great Lakes' watershed superimposed.
  • shapes and positions of Great Lakes superimposed on satellite map of Central Europe. Lake Superior reaches west to the Netherlands, and Lake Ontario east of Budapest.
  • shapes of the 25 largest lakes, to scale, all arranged near one another for comparison.

So, why are the Great Lakes so Great? 

The following video will help you get an idea of why these lakes are so significant.  See if you can answer the following questions while watching the video.

  1. How many lakes make up the Great Lakes?
  2. Why is the word “HOMES” a good way to remember the names of the lakes?
  3. How many states border the Great Lakes?
  4. What country is north of the Great Lakes?
  5. Geologically speaking, how did the Great Lakes come to be?
  6. How much of the world’s fresh surface water is in the Great Lakes?
  7. Which lake is the deepest, coldest, and contains ½ of the water in the Great Lakes system?
  8. Which two lakes are “technically” one lake?  Why?
  9. Which lake has the longest shoreline?
  10. Which lake is the warmest and shallowest?
  11. How does water get from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario?
  12. How does water that starts in Lake Superior finally get to the Atlantic Ocean?
  13. List three reasons why the Great Lakes are so great!
  14. List a few things that are causing problems for the Great Lakes.
  15. What effect is climate change having on the Great Lakes?
  16. How are people and governments trying to protect this GREAT resource?
What is so great about the Great Lakes?

When I travel, I like to read books that have a connection to my experience.  While on Thomas Jefferson, I read The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan.  It outlines the vast resources provided by the Great Lakes.   Not only do they hold 20% of the world’s supply of surface fresh water, they also provide food, transportation, and recreation to tens of millions of Americans and Canadians.   The Great Lakes are so very lifegiving, however, they are in trouble.  They are under threat as never before.  They need our help. 

In his book, Egan describes how invasive species – like the sea lamprey, zebra and quagga mussels – have colonized the lakes, issues associated with these invasions, and what has been done to mediate and prevent the arrival of future invasive species.  He also discusses the massive biological “dead” zones caused by outbreaks of toxic algal blooms.  Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Forecasts are a regular part of the NOAA weather forecast for the western basin of Lake Erie.  Human-made climate change, dredging of shipping channels, and threats to siphon off Great Lakes water to be used beyond the watershed boundaries all pose threats to this incredible resource.  He ends the book with what was being done in 2017 (publication date) to “chart a course toward integrity, stability and balance” of the Great Lakes.

All in all, it was a pretty depressing book.  It caused me to reflect, however, on what I can do as an educator to bring this knowledge to my students.  Even more importantly, how can I have students experience and eventually love the lakes and all they represent?  How can I get them to become familiar with and care for the nature in their backyard?  My work is cut out for me.

“We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. Or hear. Or sense.”

— Richard Louv

The week before leaving on my “Grand NOAA Adventure”, I was nervous and started to doubt my own abilities and why I had applied to Teacher at Sea in the first place.  Was I cut out to be a successful Teacher at Sea?  Did I have the knowledge, skills, and fortitude to thrive at sea?  What happens if my technology crashes?  What if I am seasick for 19 days? 

Four things happened to help me move forward. 

  1. My husband – my chief cheerleader – gave me many doses of encouragement.  If he believed I could do it – I knew I could.
  2. I came across a saying on a tea bag (of all places) that gave me great strength, “Personal growth lies within the unknown; courage permits you to explore this space.”  This experience would take courage.  I am courageous.
  3. My daughter reminded me of a poem by Mary Oliver.  The last lines of which, “What are you going to do with your one wild, precious life?”  That’s right!  You only go around once.  Take the bull by the horns – so to speak.  Jump on and hold tight.  Life is short, and the world is wide.
  4. NOAA and NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program believed in me enough to provide me with this awesome opportunity.  They have seen many a teacher come and go.  They believed I had what it took to be successful.  I chose to believe them. 

NOAA TAS stresses the 3 Fs: Flexibility, Following Orders, and Fortitude.  These are words to live by. 

  • Flexibility = Everything doesn’t always turn out as planned.  Be flexible.  Those who are not flexible, break. 
  • Following Orders = On a ship, this is essential.  In life, rules are made for a reason.  Follow them.  If you believe that the rules are unjust, work to change them.
  • Fortitude = Have courage.  Be strong – physically and in your convictions.  Be tenacious and believe in yourself.

I wish to thank NOAA TAS program and all the people who live and work aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.  Thank you for the long conversations and my seemingly endless questioning.  My curiosity is insatiable.  Thank you for checking my blog for accuracy – it needed to be “ship shape”!  Thank you for brainstorming with me inventions that could be created to make hydrographic technology easier if there were no budgetary restrictions.  Thank you for opening my eyes to a world of science, technology, and research that I previously did not know existed.  Thank you for teaching me what it meant to be part of the crew. 

This experience has taught me many things about science and technology, career possibilities, what it is like to live on a ship, relationships and work culture, and the power of reflection.  I learned so much more than is represented in my blog posts.  I am looking forward to sharing my experience with my students and the community. 

All my best to my new friends.  May you continue to have fair winds and following seas.

Sincerely,

Laura Grimm

Dalton STEAM & NOAA Teacher at Sea

a bandanda with a pen or marker drawing of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson in the center. underneath reads "NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson Teacher at Sea 2022." surrounding the illustration are handwritten messages from the crew in different colors of ink.
Hand-made bandana signed by the crew of Thomas Jefferson

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He was getting ready to come home.

  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on top of a life preserver mounted on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson's rail.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on top of a life preserver mounted on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson's rail. Setting sun visible in the background.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey peaks out of a black backpack.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey peaks out of a black backpack on the desk in Laura's stateroom. Her Teacher at Sea hat is on the desk next to the backpack.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits next to a whiteboard displaying a drawing of a

Laura Grimm: Shipwrecks and the War of 1812, July 28, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 28, 2022

Weather Data from my home office in Dalton, Ohio

Latitude: 40 45.5’ N

Longitude: 081 41.5’ W

Sky Conditions: Overcast

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9 miles per hour

Wind Direction: SW

Air Temperature: 74 F (23 C)

Relative Humidity: 88%

Future Weather Forecast: Showers likely and 70% possibility of afternoon thunderstorms

Science and Technology Log – and a Little History

Shipwrecks & Sonar

Lake Erie has an astonishing 2,000-plus shipwrecks which is among the highest concentration of shipwrecks in the world.  Nobody knows the exact number of shipwrecks that have occurred in Lake Erie, but estimates range from 500 to 2000.  Only about 400 of Lake Erie’s wrecks have ever been found. There are schooners, freighters, steamships, tugs and fishing boats among them.

So why does Lake Erie have more known shipwrecks per square foot than most any other body of water – with the possible exception of the English Channel?  At its deepest point, Lake Erie is only 210 feet.  Its shallowness is one of the reasons so many ships have sunk. 

a simple political map of the portion of Lake Erie around Presque Isle, which is off of Erie, Pennsylvania. 21 red dots in the water mark the locations of known shipwrecks.
The red dots on the map above show known shipwrecks off the coast of Presque Isle.

Hydrographers have found their share of ships over the years!  I am unable to identify where, however, the TJ found a shipwreck recently.  The following shows various multibeam echo sonar images of items found on the seafloor.  Not all have been found in Lake Erie.  😊

Side scan sonar is a specialized sonar system for searching and detecting objects on the seafloor. Like other sonars, a side scan sends out sound energy and analyzes the return signal (echo) that bounced off the seafloor or other objects. Side scan sonar typically consists of three basic components: a towfish, a transmission cable and the topside processing unit. In a side scan the energy that is sent out is in the shape of a fan.  This fan of energy sweeps the seafloor from directly under the towfish to either side.  The width of the fan is about the length of a football field. 

line diagram of a ship surveying seafloor features using both multibeam bathymetry (with lines depicting the sonar emanating from beneath the ship) and side scan sonar (towed behind)
Side Scan Scan (SSS) and Multibeam Echo Sonars (MBES) are often used simultaneously.  Thomas Jefferson did not use a SSS while I was aboard due to the depth of water we were surveying.

The strength of the return echo is recorded creating a “picture” of the ocean bottom. For example, objects or features that stick out from the seafloor create a strong return (creating a light area) and shadows from these objects create little or no return signal (creating a dark area).

illustrated diagram of side scan sonar. the sonar is towed behind the ship. a fan of sonar beams emanates from the sonar. they do not reach beyond a feature sticking up from the seafloor, creating an acoustic shadow beyond that object
This diagram illustrates how SSS technology produces images and acoustic shadows of objects.

NOAA hydrographic survey units use side scan sonar systems to help find and identify objects.  The shape of the seafloor and objects can be seen well with a side scan sonar.  This technology, however, does not give scientists information with respect to how deep the object is.  That is why the side scan sonar is often used along with the multibeam echo sonar. 

Four scans of the same shipwreck in Stratford Shoals, surveyed by NOAA Ship Rude in different years with different equipment. The top two images are side scan sonar images, created by the EG&G 272 (in 2001) and the Klein 5000 (2002). The bottom two images are multibeam sonar images, created by the RESON 9003 (in 2001) and the RESON 8125 (in 2002.)
Comparison of side scan (black and white) and multibeam sonar (colorful) images of the same shipwreck surveyed by NOAA Ship Rude using different methods and different kinds of equipment.

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson field work is focused in the Great Lakes for the 2022 field season.  Thomas Jefferson’s hydrographers are surveying the floor of Lake Erie in the vicinity of Cleveland, South Bass Island and Presque Isle, PA.  They are identifying hazards and changes to the lake floor and will provide this data to update NOAA’s nautical charts to make it safe for maritime travel.  

So why did NOAA decide to focus on this part of Lake Erie?  “The Port of Cleveland is one of the largest ports on the Great Lakes and ranks within the top 50 ports in the United States. Roughly 13 million tons of cargo are transported through Cleveland Harbor each year supporting 20,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual economic activity.”  The Office of Coast Survey continues to explain that “most of this area has not been surveyed since the 1940’s, and experiences significant vessel traffic.”

a nautical chart of the area of Lake Erie around South Bass Island. overlaid on the chart are polygons of lines showing completed survey work.
Hydrographic survey work completed in the vicinity of South Bass Island prior to me coming aboard Thomas Jefferson.

A Little Bit of History – Have you ever been to Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island?

Our National Anthem, a naval officer with the middle name “Hazard”, the War of 1812, and Lake Erie have connections. 

So, what does all of this have to do with Lake Erie?  In 1812, America found itself at war with Britain.  They were at war for three reasons: 1) The British were trying to limit U.S. trade, 2) they were also capturing American seamen and making them fight for the British (this is called impressment), and 3) they did not like the fact that America wanted to expand its territory.  Both the British and the Americans were anxious to gain control of Lake Erie.  Late in the summer of 1813, American troops were moved into Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, Lake Erie.   They hoped to cut off the supply routes to the British forts.

On the morning of September 10, 1813, British naval forces attacked. Commander Oliver Hazard Perry was on his flagship (a flagship is the ship that carries the commanding officer), the USS Lawrence.  (Isn’t “Hazard” a great middle name for someone in the Navy!)  He directed his fleet into the battle, but because of light winds, the sailing ships were slow to get into a position where they could fight.  His ship suffered heavy casualties.  Perry’s second flagship, the USS Niagara, was slow to come into range to help.  Four-fifths of Perry’s crew were killed or wounded.  He made the decision to surrender his ship, the USS Lawrence, and move his remaining crew and battle flag to the USS Niagara.  He was rowed half a mile under heavy fire, bearing his now-famous blue and white battle pennant with the words “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” 

  • photo of a flag that reads "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP"
  • image of a painting of a naval commander in a rowboat filled with sailors. the rowboat flies the American flag and the pennant reading "Don't Give Up the Ship." In the backgorund, warships under sail fire on one another.
  • painting of Oliver Hazard Perry

The British thought Perry and the rest of the American fleet would retreat after the surrender of the USS Lawrence.  Perry, however, decided to rejoin the battle.  At 3:00 pm, the British fleet surrendered, marking the first time in history that an entire British naval squadron had surrendered to an American vessel.  Huzzah!!  Huzzah!!

Perry wrote to General William Henry Harrison (who eventually became the 9th President of the United States):

Dear General:

We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,
O.H. Perry

a painting of ships on the water, a sketch of Oliver Hazard Perry, and the quote: "We have met the enmey [sic] ad they are ours...." O. H. Perry
A great victory against the British

Oliver Hazard Perry was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1814 for his actions in the Battle of Lake Erie and the War of 1812.  You can visit Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island, Lake Erie.

  • view of memorial from a distance, at sunset. the memorial includes a tall Doric column on a small spit of land, surrounded by trees.
  • a view of the memorial from farther away, with the surrounding town area and water visible. the memorial is a tall Doric column.

“Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie that took place near Ohio’s South Bass Island, in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led a fleet to victory in one of the most decisive naval battles to occur in the War of 1812.” (Wikipedia)

This video gives you a nice overview of the War of 1812:

Overview of the War of 1812

Oh, so you might be wondering what all of this has to do with our National Anthem?  The poem that eventually became our National Anthem was written during the War of 1812.  It was written in 1814 by a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key during the battle of Fort McHenry. 

Watch this video for information about Mr. Key and our National Anthem:

The History of the “Star-Spangled Banner”
Oh, say can you see, / By the dawn's early light, / What so proudly we hailed, / At the twilight's last gleaming? / Whose broad stripes and bright stars, / Through the perilous fight, / O'er the ramparts we watched, / Were so gallantly streaming. / And the rocket's red glare, / The bombs bursting in air, / Gave proof through the night, / That our flag was still there. / Oh say does that / star spangled banner yet wave, / O'er the land of the free, / And the home of the brave?
The National Anthem of the United States of America

Did you know that our National Anthem actually has four verses, but most of us only know the first one?  Look it up!

I’ve been part of the mission leg that is surveying off the coast of Presque Isle – as the survey around South Bass Island had been completed prior to me coming aboard.  The area around Presque Isle also has important historic roots.

Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie and is 4 miles west of Erie, PA.  According to a tourist website, “As Pennsylvania’s only “seashore,” Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating.” Recorded history of Presque Isle began with the Erielhonan, a Native American tribe who gave their name to Lake Erie.  Erielhonan is the Iroquoian word for “long tail”.  The French first named the peninsula in the 1720s; presque-isle means peninsula or “almost an island” in French. It served as a base for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet in the War of 1812.

monument on Presque Isle
The Perry Monument on Presque Isle commemorates the U.S. naval victory on Lake Erie in the War of 1812.

In the 19th century, Presque Isle became home to several lighthouses and what later became a United States Coast Guard station.  In 1921, the peninsula became a state park.  The Presque Isle peninsula formed because of glaciation and is constantly being reshaped by waves and wind. Since 1967, the park has been named one of the best places in the United States for watching birds.

  • Aerial view of Gull Point and Presque Isle State Park from the east.
  • Aerial view of Presque Isle State Park from the west.
  • aerial view showing breakwaters along the shore of Presque Isle
outlines of the shape and location of Presque Isle relative to the Pennsylvania coast line in 1790, 1818, 1837, 1866, 1903, 1968, 1971
Migration of Presque Isle from 1790 to 1971 – No wonder it is important to survey these waters!

During the War of 1812, Presque Isle played a part in the victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie.  Oliver Hazard Perry, commander of the American fleet, made strategic use of the bay as a place to construct six of the nine ships in his fleet.  The “Little Bay” near the tip of the peninsula where the ships sheltered was later named “Misery Bay” because of the hardships during the winter of 1813–1814, after the men returned there from battle. Many men suffered from smallpox and were kept in quarantine near the bay. A great many infected men died and were buried in what is now called Graveyard Pond.

map of Presque Isle showing Presque Isle Bay, Misery Bay, Gulf Point
Misery Bay

After the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, Perry’s two largest ships, the USS Lawrence and USS  Niagara, were badly damaged, and intentionally sunk in Misery Bay. Both ships were eventually raised.  The Lawrence burned while on display at the 1876 Centennial Exposition and parts of the Niagara were eventually used to build a replica of the current Niagara, based in Presque Isle Bay.

USS Niagara, a tall ship replica, under sail on Lake Erie, visible at a distance
We sailed past the USS Niagara in early July.
an old political cartoon captioned, "Queen Charlotte and Johnny Bull got their dose of Perry." A woman with a fancy dress and hat hands a bottle labeled "Perry" toward a King, seated with a crown and robes, who holds up his hand to refuse it. The bottle, uncorked, splashes upward, and in the splash are the names of battle locations. The woman says: "Johnny, won't you please take some more Perry?" the man says: "Oh! Perry!!! Curse that Perry! - One disaster after another - I have - I have not half recovered of the Bloody-nose I got at the Boxing Match!"
The British really did not appreciate Commodore Perry!

Personal Log

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: This controller is used to move a heavy object.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a control panel.
What do all those controls do, Dewey?

A: Dewey is sitting on the piece of technology that is used to control the davits.  Davits are hydraulic machines that take the small boats on and off the ship.

AB Thompson, wearing a face mask, beanie, and gloves, stands at the controls for the davits. Another engineer connects wires in the background.
Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson uses the davit controller to lift the boats

This time-lapse video shows the crew using the davits to pick up and then redeploy one of the small boat launches. (Video taken by Physical Scientist Dan Garatea)

This time-lapse video shows the crew using the davits to pick up and then redeploy one of the small boat launches. (Video taken by Physical Scientist Dan Garatea)

Human-Interest Poll (HIP)

Miss Parker makes a lot of yummy desserts!  I recently asked the crew to list their favorite.

a pie chart labeled: TJ Crew's Favorite Dessert Made by Miss Parker. Apple Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Cookies, Strawberry Shortcake, Bread Pudding, Banana Pudding, and Blueberry Loaf received 11.1% of the vote each. Peach Cobbler received 22.2%.
It looks like Peach Cobbler is the crew’s favorite dessert made by Miss Parker!  It is made using one of her mother’s recipes.

Meet the Crew

  • two surveyors pose for a photo on deck; one wears a hardhat and holds a line
  • two NOAA Corps officers, wearing hard hats and life vests and NOAA Corps uniforms, pose for a photo on the deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. The satellites and the penants are visible behind them.
  • AB Kinnett poses for a photo in front of a window, on which he has written electrical terms: resistance, Ohms, Current, Amps, Voltage, Volts. through the window we see the deck, the alidade, the ocean.

Dan Garatea and Surafel Abebe are physical scientists (PS) who work in Silver Spring, MD for NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) where they plan hydrographic surveys for chart updates.  They research and develop the plans and instructions for NOAA ships, contractors, other governmental agencies, and other interested parties to develop hydrographic priorities.  When on board during a survey, they manage and provide guidance for the surveys in the field.

two scientists pose for a photo in front of a railing on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. PS Garatea, on the left, wears a life jacket and hard hat.
PS Dan Garatea and PS Surafel Abebe enjoy another beautiful day aboard Thomas Jefferson

It is nice being home. I do, however, miss the crew aboard Thomas Jefferson. They are now back out surveying on the Lake Erie after a much needed shoreleave. I am having fun thinking about how I will use what I learned during this adventure to enrich the K-8 STEAM curriculum of the Dalton Local School District.

Laura Grimm: R/V vs. RV, July 27, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 27, 2022

Weather Data from my home office in Dalton, Ohio

Latitude: 40 45.5’ N

Longitude: 081ᵒ 41.5’ W

Elevation: 1135 feet

Sky Conditions: Mostly sunny

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 7 mph

Wind Direction: NW

Air Temperature: 25 ᵒC (77 ᵒF)

Relative Humidity: 58%

Science and Technology Log

Research Vessel vs. Recreational Vehicle

I thought it would be interesting to compare some specifications of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson = TJ (research vessel) with my 2010 Toyota Sienna minivan + 2019 Viking camper = VV (recreational vehicle).  I would also like to thank Chief Marine Engineer (CME) Tom Cleary and Husband Phil Grimm for information concerning the specifications of the research vessel and recreational vehicle, respectfully.

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson underway, as seen from a launch vessel
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson taken from the launch = TJ Research Vessel
a minivan and a camper trailer parked in a driveway
2019 Viking camper + 2010 Toyota Sienna minivan taken in my driveway = VV Recreational Vehicle

What is the size of engine?  How much power is produced?

                VV = 3.5 Liter, 3500cc, 211 cubic inch / 265 Horsepower

                TJ = 7,740 cubic inch, 2500 Horsepower.  12-cylinder mechanically injected EMD (a division of Caterpillar) diesel engine.  This engine is commonly used on locomotives. 

engine of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
Engine of Thomas Jefferson
an engineer wearing protective earmuffs works on the innards of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson's engine
Engine of Thomas Jefferson with the “hood” open

What kind of fuel do you use and how big is your storage tank?

                VV = Minivan uses 87 octane unleaded gasoline & has a 21 gallon fuel tank.  Camper has a 20-pound liquid propane (LP) gas storage tank.

                TJ = The ship uses #2 ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and has a 131,789-gallon storage tank.

Where is the electricity stored?  Quantity?

VV = Minivan has a 12-volt battery + Camper has a 12-volt “marine”, deep cycle battery

TJ = The ship has two 24-volt starting banks (2 batteries in series) for the emergency diesel generator (EDG), and two 24-volt emergency power banks for general alarm and other emergency circuits. 

Where is the electricity produced?  Quantity?

                VV = Minivan: belt-driven alternator keeps battery charged.   Camper: battery can be charged by the van or with the charger/inverter when plugged into AC.

                TJ (underway / while at sea) = Three generators capable of generating 345 Kilowatts each (over 1 megawatt combined); one generator is online at a time.  TJ has increased its energy efficiency (LED lighting, more energy efficient AC and appliances, etc.).  Now, under normal house loads – not running any of the davits or cranes – TJ requires only 30% of the electricity generated with one generator.

                TJ (onshore / while at port) = The ship has the capability to use power from shore via a plug on the port and starboard side.  It uses power cables standard to all maritime ships.  Each of its NATO plugs is capable of carrying 480 Volts of 3-phase power (400 amps).  Typically, TJ only uses one of its NATO plugs while in port unless there is need for additional electricity.

Engineer, wearing protective ear muffs, checks fluids in one of three generators
First Assistant Engineer (1AE) Perry checks fluids in one of three generators
one of the generators aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
Each generator can generate 345 Kilowatts of electricity

How does the driver / engineer know what is happening with the engine and generators?

                VV = Dashboard of the van, gauges, check engine lights and warnings

                TJ = Modern, Windows-based control room with remote capabilities.  This system sends information to the control room, Bridge, and the Chief Engineer’s office.  Lots of gauges and computer displays.  Multiple lights and warnings if there are problems.

engineer stands in the control room next to a control panel with at least four monitors, levers, buttons
 1AE Perry checks gauges in the control room

How about locomotion?  How does VV or TJ move forward or backward?

                VV & TJ = Both use an internal combustion engine that turns a propulsion shaft.  Both use a series of reduction gears (transmission in the case of the van).  Speed is maintained via a fixed gear ratio in TJ, unlike the van that has multiple gear ratios.  The Chief Marine Engineer (CME), Tom Cleary, tried to convince me that the mechanics of locomotion are very similar in both vehicles except the drive shaft of TJ is much longer and larger and at the end turns a propeller; where the drive shaft of the van eventually makes the wheels turn.

How do the drivers know where to go?

                VV = looking out the window, maps, GPS, and when all else fails ask the spouse

                TJ = refer to my July 18, 2022, NOAA Teacher at Sea blog post, “Who is driving this ship?”

Do both vehicles have windshield wipers?

                VV = 2 windshield wipers

                TJ = 9 windshield wipers + 2 Clearview screens which are rotational window wipers that work via centripetal force. 

a centripetal windshield wiper on one of the windows of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson's bridge; through the window we can see the foredeck
Clearview Screen – Centripetal Windshield Wiper

 How big is the freshwater (potable water) tank?

                VV = 23 gallons

                TJ = 47,382 gallons.  The ship also can make its own freshwater from saltwater using a reverse osmosis system

What is greywater and how big is the collection tank?

                Greywater is the relatively clean wastewater from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances.

                VV = 25 gallons

                TJ = 27,878 gallons

What is black water and how big is the collection tank?

                Black water is sewage or the wastewater from toilets.

                VV = 25 gallons

                TJ = 29,440 gallons

What about the hot water systems?

                VV = Has a 6-gallon water tank where water is heated using natural gas.

                TJ = Has two separate hot water systems.  The first uses electricity to heat water in a 60-gallon tank.  This water is available for decks 01, 02, and 03.  These are the three decks above the main deck.  The other system has two 60-gallon tanks plumbed in series that serve the laundry room, galley, and staterooms on decks 2 and 3.  These are the two decks below the main deck.  Pumps constantly move water through the systems helping to provide (almost) instantaneous hot water from the tap.

What is the size and amenities of the kitchen (galley)?

                VV = 2 burner gas stove, microwave, no conventional oven, two cupboards used for food storage, 1 cupboard used to store pots, pans, and other miscellaneous kitchen items, approximate size of counter next to the sink is 6 square feet.

                TJ = Areas including food prep, cooking, serving, dish washer, dry storage and steward’s office are all in an area roughly 800 square feet.

 What about where people eat (mess hall)?  What is it like?

                VV = One table (roughly 2’ x 3’) plus two benches.  Entire area is approximately 24 square feet.  A picnic table is also an option when available.  It is provided by the campground.

                TJ = Three tables (roughly 2.5’ x 10’), 20 chairs, multiple refrigerators, freezers, beverage & coffee dispensers, salad bar, sink, and snack shelves.  Entire area is about 250 square feet.

Do these vehicles have refrigerators and freezers?

                VV = 3 cubic foot refrigerator + ½ cubic foot freezer.  Ice is made with a mini-ice cube tray.

                TJ = All staterooms have a mini fridge.  There are a mixture of small and home-sized refrigerators and freezers in the galley and mess hall for the convenience of the stewards and crew.  There are also two very large walk-in refrigerators and freezers that are used by the stewards.  An ice maker is housed in the galley and is used to fill coolers, etc.

How many berths (beds) are aboard?

                VV = The camper and van each have two, making a total of 4 places where people could sleep.

                TJ = There are 36 places for people to sleep, and the hospital has one bed.

What is a “head” and how many are there?

                According to a Navy history website, “Head” in a nautical sense referring to the bow or fore part of a ship dates to 1485. The ship’s toilet was typically placed at the head of the ship near the base of the bowsprit, where splashing water served to naturally clean the toilet area.”  (Icky!)

                VV = One toilet/shower unit in the camper + a portable toilet if needed.

                TJ = Each stateroom has access to a toilet/shower unit + a public toilet on the main deck.

How many stairs are there?

                VV = Two steps into the camper

                TJ = It all depends upon how a flight of stairs is defined and who you ask.  If a flight is defined as at least 8 steps, the consensus among those asked is somewhere between 20 and 22 flights of stairs.  TJ is essentially a 6-story building after all.

What about doors?  How many are there?

                VV = Van has 5 doors (if you count the trunk); camper has 1 door

                TJ = Too many to count!  There are five doors, however, that are very important.  They are the internal watertight doors that isolate areas of the ship in case of emergencies.  There are also additional watertight doors that one uses to go from the internal spaces to the decks of the ship.

one of the watertight doors on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. it has a large, heavy handle. it says "Watertight Door Keep Closed"
Closed watertight door
view of the watertight door when opened; we can see the seal around the curved edges
Open watertight door

What is the outer cover made of?

                VV = Van is painted steel; camper is painted aluminum

                TJ = Painted steel.  The deckhands really do a fantastic job of keeping TJ in great repair!

What are the external dimensions of each vehicle?

                VV = Van: Length: 17”, Width: 6’ 7”, Height: 5’ 10”; Camper: Length: 16’ 7”, Width: 7’ 4”, Height: 10’; total length of the Van + Camper = 33’ 4”

                TJ = Length: 208’, Width (beam): 45 ‘, Height (from the keel to the wind birds): ~ 100 feet

Meet the Crew

Chief Marine Engineer (CME) Tom Cleary got his first paycheck for a boat job when he was 16 years old and has not stopped working on boats since.  This extremely competent engineer is originally from Cape Cod and has worked for NOAA for over 20 years – the last 11 years have been aboard Thomas Jefferson.  His off-ship activities revolve around his wife and four children, and maintaining an 80-year-old home. 

Tom states that that, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but still always better than a master on one”.  He enjoys the variety presented to him by his work duties.  No two days are alike.  He oversees 9 people, and his duties require mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and managerial skills. 

He is a classic hawsepiper.  This means that he did not go to a maritime academy to become an engineer.  He learned from the ground up first by working on sight seeing boats and ferries in the Cape Cod area to working on several NOAA ships.  From working as a deckhand, steward, to chief engineer – he has literally crawled up the hawsepipe.

If budget was not a limiting factor, what could I invent for you that would make your job easier?  He wanted to be clear that he meant no disrespect, however, he replied that he would like some robots.  Much of his job is spent dealing with people.  Budget management meetings, payroll, planning schedules, rating performance, training, drills, and dealing with “hotel” services for the crew (refrigeration, air conditioning, plumbing, hot water issues, etc.) take up much of his time.  Tom likes the crew, however, if there were fewer people and more robots working on the ship, he would have more time on engineering challenges.  (I wonder if he has contemplated the challenges presented by maintaining a gang of robots?)

Engineers Perry and Cleary pose for a photo in the galley. CME Clearly is wearing work overalls and a radio.
1AE Perry and CME Cleary

What is the difference between a boat and a ship?

According to Britannica Kids, “A ship is a large boat that can carry passengers or cargo for long distances over water. People have been using ships for transportationexploration, and war since ancient times.”

Parts of a Ship

Diagram of a ship with the following parts labeled: 1 - Funnel, 2 - Stern, 3 - Propeller, 4 - Port, 5 - Anchor, 6 - Bulbous bow, 7 - Bow, 8 - Deck, 9 - Superstructure, 10 - Starboard, 11 - Bridge
Diagram showing the main parts of a ship

“Most ships are much larger than most boats, but they have many of the same parts. As on boats, the front of a ship is called the bow. The back is the stern. A ship’s left side is known as the port side. The right is the starboard side.

A ship’s frame, or body, is called the hull. The keel is like the ship’s backbone. It is a central beam that runs along the bottom of the ship from front to back. The keel keeps the ship from tipping over.

Ships usually have many decks. The decks are like the floors of a building. Cabins for passengers, engine and control rooms, and spaces for cargo are often on different decks.

An engine inside the ship provides energy to propellers at the back of the ship. The propellers push the ship through the water. The rudder, which is also at the back of the ship, helps in steering. When the ship is not moving, a heavy metal anchor may be lowered into the water. This keeps the ship from floating away.” (Britannica Kids)

This excellent video clearly defines all the parts of a ship labeled in the diagram above. 

Watch this video to help you learn the parts of a ship!

Did you know? 

Earlier, I stated that I use GPS (Global Positioning System) on my phone to help navigate while driving.  Just what is GPS?  It is a highly accurate satellite-based navigation and location system. With a GPS receiver (like my phone), users can quickly determine their precise latitude, longitude, and altitude.

If I need to drive from Los Alamos, NM to Los Angeles, CA., I place these end points into Google Maps and GPS helps me plan a path to drive.  Some people use GPS-capable watches to help them determine how far they have run and how much elevation they have gained.  We also use GPS on the ship.  At any one time, the survey is using between 25-30 GPS satellites at a time – some from other countries.

Something else I learned today is that GPS is the system developed by the USA.  Other countries have their own systems that work in much the same way.  Countries cooperate and use each other’s satellite systems.  Here is a list of GPS-like systems used by other countries.

  • GPS = United States
  • GLONASS = Russia
  • Galileo = European Union
  • QZS = Japan
  • BeiDou = China
  • SBAS = Korea

Watching this NASA Space Place video, “GPS and the Quest for Pizza” will also help you understand how GPS works.

GPS and the Quest for Pizza

Personal Log

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: You use these to climb up or down.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a textured black surface
Dewey, what are you sitting on?

A: Dewey is sitting on a step of a flight of stairs.  All the steps on the ship have a non-skid surface.  They are very effective at giving you sure footing as you climb up or down the stairs.  There are flights of stairs inside and outside of the ship.  They go from one deck to another.  All in all, there are between 20-22 flights of stairs on Thomas Jefferson.  

Dewey the beanie monkey on a stair on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
Dewey is sitting on one of the ship’s many flights of stairs.

Many a fine sailor . . .

With only a few more days to go on this incredible journey, I was excited to read on the next day’s Plan of the Day (POD) that I would be going out on the launch (small boat) to help with surveying close to shore.  We had a large area to survey and also pick up some “holidays” in areas that were previously surveyed. A data holiday is an area that was missed in a previous survey. I packed my backpack, got a good night’s sleep, and ate a small breakfast to prepare for the day.

a black-and-white photo of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco
TJ Launch = Bucking Bronco

Let’s just say, it was a rough day.  The waves were not terribly high (~ 2 feet), however, the launch rode like a bucking bronco!  I was fine for the first 30-45 minutes.  Then, I started to feel all hot and woozy.  After “revisiting” my breakfast several times and losing my TAS hat overboard, the crew brought me back to the ship.  I was taken to the infirmary where the medical officer took my vitals every 15 minutes for an hour and encouraged me to eat some saltines and drink Gatorade.  After a long nap, shower, and Ramen noodles for supper, I felt much better. 

At supper, the three crewmembers who were on the launch with me said that they tried to look for my hat.  They found a dead fish, but they thought it wouldn’t look very nice on my head.  I kidded back that Dewey, who was in my backpack, threw up a little bit, also.  It sure was an adventure!

I cannot say enough nice things about the crew members who took care of me in my time of need.  They were professional, kind, and had my wellbeing first and foremost in their words and actions.  I am very grateful.  Thank you!

Later that evening the Chief Boatswain Pooser told me, “Many a fine sailor has lost their lunch on the launch.”  It made me smile.  I was finally part of the club.

Laura, wearing a Teacher at Sea hat, hugs her husband, who is earing a NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson t-shirt, in front of a chain-linked fence; the ship is visible through the fence
Mrs. Grimm and her First Mate Husband Phil

Please note – As I complete this post, I am now home. I am on land, however, I have more to share. My final blog posts will be sent from my home office. (Funny. . . Why does the room seem to be rolling from side to side? No one told me that I would still feel the rocking of the ship the day after my disembarkation. I don’t mind. It is pleasant reminder of my time aboard Thomas Jefferson.)

Laura Grimm: Chizzywinks and Hawsepipers, July 21, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 21, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41 36.7’ N

Longitude: 080 40.3’ W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 15.3 knots

Wind Direction: 254 W

Lake Temperature: 23.6 C

Wave Height:  3 feet

Dry Bulb: 26.2 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 22.8 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 75%

a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Cleveland
We are back to surveying off the north coast of Cleveland

Science and Technology Log

Humidity: In each blog post, I report the dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures plus the calculated relative humidity. 

What is humidity?  It is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity will be high. The higher the humidity, the “stickier” the air feels outside.  Think about a hot August day in Ohio.  The air feels sticky and uncomfortable.  Chances are that the humidity is high.

What is relative humidity?  Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at the same temperature.  Warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air.  Once you know the wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperatures, you can use a conversion table to calculate the relative humidity. (I discussed this topic in my July 7: Echoes and Flares blog post.

This video might help you understand the concept further.

What is humidity?
dry and wet bulb thermometers mounted on a wall, inside a box. The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water. 
Dry and wet bulb thermometers are used to calculate relative humidity

These thermometers are used to measure the dry bulb (left) and wet bulb (right) temperature measurements.  The dry bulb measures air temperature.  The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water.  The physics of water evaporating causes the temperature to decrease. So, this thermometer will register a lower temperature.  A person then uses a comparison cart to calculate the relative humidity.  The dryer the air, the more quickly the water from the sock will evaporate.  A larger difference between the dry and wet bulb thermometers will result in a lower relative humidity reading. 

the white box with holes in the cover that contains the thermometers
The dry and wet bulb thermometers are contained in a white box with holes in the cover.  This is to minimize the effect of direct sun.

Students: We have a “wet wall” also known as a “swamp cooler” in the greenhouse to cool the greenhouse when it gets too warm.  How is this related to humidity?  How does this work to cool the greenhouse?  (Hint: Look up the concept of evaporative cooling.)

Latitude and Longitude: Each time I write a blog post I have told you where I am.  I do this by telling you my “address” on the globe by listing the ship’s latitude and longitudinal lines.  But just what are latitude and longitude lines and how do they tell you where you are on the globe?

Latitude and longitude are a system of lines used to describe the location of any place on Earth.  Think of latitude and longitude as an imaginary grid placed over the world to help you find places. Each place on the Earth has an address.  The address is where the lines of latitude and longitude cross.  Although these are only imaginary lines, they appear on maps and globes as if they actually existed.

illustration of a sphere covered in parallel latitude lines and vertical longitude lines
Latitude – Flatitude!          Longitude lines are Long!
a chart about Latitude (horizontal lines on a globe) v Longitude (vertical lines on a globe); illustration of a globe; equator and prime meridian highlighted
This chart summarizes a lot of information about latitude and longitude.
  • Latitude are the points north and south of the equator. The equator is halfway between the North and South Poles. It’s an imaginary horizontal line that cuts the planet completely in half. Latitude lines are imaginary lines that are a specific degree away from the equator going to the North and South Pole.  Between each line of latitude there are 60 minutes which are then again subdivided into 60 seconds.
    • They are also known as “parallels” and run east-west.
    • Equator = 0ᵒ; North Pole = 90ᵒN; South Pole = 90ᵒS
    • Northern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒNorth
    • Southern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒSouth
    • 1 degree of latitude = 60 nautical miles
    • 1 minute of latitude = 1 nautical mile
    • 1 nautical mile = 1.15 statute miles (Statute miles are used on land.)
  • Longitude are the points east and west of the prime meridian.  Like the equator, the prime meridian is an imaginary vertical line that splits the world in half from the North to the South Pole. Longitude are vertical lines going from one pole to the other starting at the prime meridian.  I like to think of the lines of longitude like the distance between the edges of sections of an orange.  They are further apart near the middle (equator) and get closer together as they near the ends.
    • 0ᵒ = the Prime Meridian that passes through Greenwich, England
    • 180ᵒ = halfway around the Earth; it is roughly the international dateline
    • Western Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒWest of Greenwich
    • Eastern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒEast of Greenwich
    • Longitudinal lines vary with distance from the equator

This video may help you understand these concepts more clearly. 

Want to understand latitude and longitude?

What is the latitude and longitudinal address of your town? Use this interactive map to find the latitude and longitudinal address of your house!  I found using the “satellite” view handy. 

Another way to find out is to go to  Google Maps and type in your address.  Once the App has found your house, right click on the red pin.  At the top of the list will be your latitude / longitude coordinates.

Chizzywinks: This message was recently written on a white board outside of the crew lounge.  What are these invaders?  They do not seem to bite; however, they are very annoying.  They are everywhere!

message on whiteboard reads: Please keep ALL doors closed! Flies are attacking the ship inside and out. Everyone report to your battle stations LOL
Report to your battle stations!
close-up view of midges
In mid-July we had a period with little wind. This insect covered many of the surfaces of the ship. While it somewhat resembles a mosquito, this is in insect called a midge . . . or a chizzywink.

No one on board seemed to know what they were (other than annoying), so I contacted two friends back home.  Drs. Rowe and Nault have expertise in plant pathology and entomology – but, more importantly, they are fly fishermen and really know about the insects that call Lake Erie “Home”.

These lovely, pesky insects are midges.  They have many other names, including lake flies, Canadian soldiers, or chizzywinks, just to name a few. They live on the lake bottom as worm-like larvae, many of which are blood red.  In this life stage they eat decaying plant matter.  Eventually, they enter the pupal stage.  This is a nonfeeding stage between the larva and adult, during which it undergoes a complete change within a hardened case.  The pupae (more than one pupa) slowly rise to the surface through the water column.  They are a major source of food for fish and other aquatic animals.  Fishermen consider them good bugs!  Those aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson might beg to differ.

Once at the surface, the adults emerge and get rid of their pupal cases in the surface film of the water.  They often emerge by the thousands. In fact, in certain places around the world there can be so many midges that once they die, they are considered fertilizer.

The adults look like “mosquito-like” flies, but don’t bite. Many are eaten by birds. 

Once the larvae emerge as flying adults, they stop eating and have only one thing on their minds – mating. According to Water Blogged, a blog published by the Science and Stories of the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the adults “gather in huge clouds and, well, get to know one another. After mating, the male eventually expires, with the female not far behind – but first she’ll return to the water to lay her eggs.”  The eggs laid on the surface sink to the bottom, and the cycle begins again.

(Students – Compare and contrast the life cycle of a midge and the monarch butterfly or darkling beetles.)

illustrated diagram of the life cycle of a midge: egg, larva, pupa, adult
Life cycle of the non-biting midge, a.k.a chizzywinks.

Learn more about the midge in this video.

Midges are invertebrates.

Meet the Crew

Chief Electronics Technician Justin Witmer points a screwdriver at a screw on a wall of technology
Justin Witmer, Chief Electronics Technician on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Justin Witmer has worked on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson as the Chief Electronics Technician for the past 3 years.  Prior to this position he worked for the Norfolk Naval Shipyards.  He is a sailor at heart having spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy.

What does your job entail?  He is responsible for most of the things on TJ that plug into a wall.  This includes the maintaining and repairing the sonars (which are essential to the hydrographic work), other ship sensors, computers, etc.  From the sonar on the keel to the wind bird at the top, he is responsible for the electronics in between. 

Where do you do most of your work?  I work mostly from my office which is right off the Survey Control Room where I do computer and user account maintenance as well as electronics troubleshooting duties.

What do you like most about your job?  I like to troubleshoot electronics issues.

What do you like the least about your job?  Administrative paperwork.

What do you like about working on a ship?  I’ve always enjoyed the general atmosphere of living on a ship.  With a good crew it is much like a large group home.  You can choose to get along with everyone, and if you can’t, the ship is large enough that you can generally get away from those you don’t see eye-to-eye with.

If budget was not an issue, what tool would you like me to invent that would make your job easier?  A cable stretcher.

Can you share with us one or two things about yourself that don’t have to do with work?  He lives in Norfolk, VA, speaks fluent Turkish, and like to play music (bass and tuba).  He also likes amateur radio.  His job lines up nicely with his hobbies – all except, perhaps, playing tuba.

So much of what TJ does to complete its mission relies on computers, sensors, and electronics.  Thank you, Justin, for all you do to keep the electronics aboard TJ ship shape!  Thank you for your service.

Personal Log

Safety is paramount.  Since discussing safety drills in my July 8, 2022 blog, I have done my homework.  I know what the signals mean, what to take, and where to go.  Today, we had three drills: fire, man overboard, and abandoned ship.  During abandoned ship drills, we need to take our personal flotation devices (PFDs), also known as life vests, and our Survival Immersion Suit which is lovingly called our “Gumby” suit.  We are expected to put on our suit in less than 2 minutes.  It is made from Neoprene to maximize flotation and hypothermia protection.  Being red, it can easily be seen in the water.  It also has a light and a place where we can blow up a head pillow.

A friend helped me practice putting on my Gumby suit.  I succeeded in putting it on I just over a minute!

  • Laura stands on deck and holds up the survival suit
  • Laura, wearing the survival suit, stands at the railing and waves at the camera. a life preserver is mounted on the rail next to her.
  • Laura poses in the survival suit

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He is sitting on a very important piece of equipment that we need when we want to lower or raise the anchor.

  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a large metal object with a chain
  • wider view shows Dewey the beanie monkey sitting on the anchor windlass
  • a view over the bow of the ship, with the anchor windlass in the center

A: Dewey is sitting on the anchor windlass.   According to Wikipedia, “An anchor windlass is a machine that restrains and manipulates the anchor chain on a boat, allowing the anchor to be raised and lowered by means of chain cable. A notched wheel engages the links of the chain or the rope.”  In other words, it is the machine that lowers and raises the anchor. 

a line diagram of an anchor windlass on a ship. the anchor windlass rolls and unrolls the chain that threads through the hawsepipe and connects to the anchor
This diagram shows the location of the hawsepipe.

I learned a lot new information today!  The steel pipe on each side of the windlass where the anchor chains pass through is called a hawsepipe.  I think because the chain goes up and down in the hawsepipe, a hawsepiper (*) refers to a ship’s officer who began his/her career in a non-traditional way.  They did not attend a maritime academy to earn an officer’s license.  They worked their way into their career like a chain travels through a hawsepipe.

(*) Remember this word. I will be using it in a future blog post.

illustration of a stockless anchor
Thomas Jefferson has a stockless anchor.

The anchor is usually very heavy and made of metal.  It is used to help keep the ship from drifting away from a fixed place due to wind or current.

TJ has a stockless anchor.  Watch the following video to see how a windlass and a stockless anchor work together to secure a ship. The chain really does a lot of work!

Lake Erie Fact:

Lake Erie’s primary inlet is the Detroit River which comes from Lake Huron.  Its natural outflow is via the Niagara River, which provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the U.S. as it spins huge turbines near Niagara Falls.

Soon we will start sampling the bottom to see if we are traveling over mud, clay, sand, gravel, or shells (most likely to be zebra mussels).  This is important information for ships to know who want to anchor in the area. 

I have mixed feelings about this experience coming to an end.  I really miss my husband, friends, cats, home, garden, etc.  Just this morning, I made the comment to Chief Hydrographer in Charge, Erin, how this has been an incredible experience . . . especially for a nerd who is super excited about STEM content and promoting STEM careers.  With minimal preparation, I was plopped into this information-rich environment with local experts who were willing and excited to answer all my questions AND I had the time to ask more questions, follow research leads, process my learning through writing, and get a taste of living at sea.

We pull into the Port of Cleveland on July 22.  It will be hard to say, “Good-bye” to TJ, this extraordinary learning experience, and all my new friends.  It will be easy to greet my husband after 19 days being away.  It will also be time to move forward and plan on how I will share what I have learned with the students at Dalton Local Schools.

It’s been a full day.  Ta-Ta for now!

Laura Grimm: Who is driving this ship? July 18, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 18, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42 11.6’N

Longitude: 080 20.7’ W

Sky Conditions: Overcast (*)

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Wind Direction: 300 NW

Lake Temperature: 22.3 C

Wave Height: 3-4 ft.

Dry Bulb: 22.6 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 21.3 ᵒC

Relative Humidity: 92%

A chart of abbreviations for weather terms for sky condition, intensity/proximity, descriptor, precipitation, obscuration, and other
(*) This is a chart of abbreviations that I refer to when I go the the bridge to record the weather .
a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Presque Isle
This image shows the progress of the hydrographic survey off the coast of Presque Isle.

Science and Technology Log

The ship is driven from the Bridge.  It is the main control center of the ship.  It is driven by a variety of people and computers.  People who drive the ship include: the Commanding Officer (CO), Conning Officer (CONN), Officer of the Deck (OOD), and several helmsmen.  There are several (at least two) people on the Bridge all the time.  If Thomas Jefferson were a six-story building, the Bridge would be on the top floor.  Being on the 6th floor has its pros and cons.  Seeing, avoiding, and communicating with other boats in the area is very important.  One can see far and wide from up there!  One disadvantage is that things really rock ‘n roll up there when we are in heavy seas!

portrait photo of CO Jaskoski on bridge
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson’s Commanding Officer (CO) Jaskoski

According to a popular career website (Your Free Career Test), “A ship captain is in command of water vessels in lakes, oceans, coastal waters, rivers, or bays. They ensure the safe and efficient operations of vessels. A ship captain navigates their vessel according to weather conditions and uses radar, depth finders, radios, buoys, lights, and even lighthouses. They determine sufficient levels of oxygen, hydraulic fluid, or air pressure of the vessel.”

Are you interested in having a career as a ship captain of a seagoing vessel?  Watch the following video to see if you have what it takes!

How about a career at sea?
view of the bridge controls
The Bridge has many windows, and is filled with instruments, computers, and reference manuals.

Following are pictures of what is used to navigate and drive the ship.  Each picture is followed by a brief description.

a radar screen
Thomas Jefferson has two radars

Radar is one of the most important tools on the Bridge.  It allows us to see objects, ships, obstructions – basically anything we could run into (on the surface).  TJ has two radars.  The X-band radar is used for higher resolution pictures and things in closer range.  The S-band radar is used to see objects further away. 

The Officer of the Deck (OOD) and Conning Officer (CONN) use the Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA) function of the radar to identify “targets” or other ships in the area.  It is used to track their relative motion to see which way and how fast they are headed with respect to TJ.  The ARPA calculates the closest point of approach (CPA) and time to CPA.  This tells you if there is the potential of a collision.  The result is to change course, change speed, contact the other ship, or anything to reduce the risk of a collision.

If there is the potential for a collision, the OOD or CONN may contact the vessel and make a passing arrangement.  However, since TJ is conducting operations, they may also make a Security announcement to let other vessels know their whereabouts and status. (Sécurité is French for “security” and is pronounced se-cur-i-tay.)  According to Wikipedia, “Of the three distress and urgency calls, Sécurité is the least urgent.

Sécurité: A radio call that usually issues navigational warnings, meteorological warnings, and any other warning needing to be issued that may concern the safety of life at sea yet may not be particularly life-threatening.

Pan-pan: This is the second most important call. This call is made when there is an emergency aboard a vessel, yet there is no immediate danger to life, or the safety of the vessel itself. This includes, but is not limited to injuries on deck, imminent collision that has not yet occurred, or being unsure of vessel’s position.

Mayday: This is the most important call that can be made, since it directly concerns a threat to life or the vessel. Some instances when this call would be made are, but not limited to death, collision, and fire at sea. When the Mayday call is made, the vessel is requiring immediate assistance.”

Last evening, the CONN made a Sécurité announcement because the position, direction, and speed of a dredging vessel and the TJ were at risk of a collision.  As soon as the announcement was made, the dredging vessel altered its course and the TJ slowed down a bit.  We averted the collision with a very large margin.

A close-up view of one portion of the radar readout (green and yellow numbers on a black background)
A close-up view of one portion of the radar.

Above is a close-up view of just one portion of the radar.

HDG = Heading of the ship (per gyrocompass)

SPD = Speed in knots

COG = Course over ground ***

SOG = Speed over ground ***

The yellow numbers represent degrees of latitude and longitude.

(*** These parameters are course and speed after the influence of wind and current have been taken into account.)

Speed at sea is measured in knots.  One knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour or approximately 1.15 miles per hour.

Distance at sea is measured in nautical miles.  The nautical mile is based on the Earth’s longitude and latitude coordinates, with one nautical mile equaling one minute of latitude.  A nautical mile is slightly longer than a mile on land, equaling 1.15 land-measured (or statute) miles.

A combination of monitors
A combination of monitors showing and Electronic Charting System (ECS) and the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS)

The lower monitor and keyboard are the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).  It displays Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs).  This system allows officers on deck to see where they are in real-time.  It can be updated frequently when new information regarding navigation (buoys, obstructions, depths, etc.) are charted.  It has all but replaced paper carts. 

a control panel
Search lights and communication systems

The two panels on the left control the starboard and port side searchlights.  Upper right is a fathometer.  It is the less sophisticated echo sounder used to measure depth below the keel when we are transiting (moving from place to place) and not surveying.

Lower right, you will find the intercom that is used to communicate between the Bridge and the Data Acquisition desk in the Survey room.

close-up view of a radio control panel
This communications VHF radio is set on channel 16.

This radio is used to communicate with other ships in the area.  Information to and from the US Coast Guard is also shared through this device.

computer monitor
This monitor shows where data have been collected.

This monitor shows what is going on with a software called “Hypack”.  It displays data that has been collected.  It helps hydrographers and those driving the ship to visually keep track of where data has been collected. Also, it feeds information to the autopilot which allows the ship to stay on the course while surveying, without having to steer in hand or adjust based on distance from the line.

ship's steering wheel, or helm, mounted on bridge
The ship’s wheel

This is where the Helmsman stands and steers the ship.  The Helmsman takes his/her orders from the Conning Officer.  This officer is responsible for instructing the helmsman on the course to steer. Did you know that ships have autopilot?  The helmsman steers the ship when it is turning or doing complicated maneuvers.  When the ship is traveling in long straight lines (when we are “mowing the lawn”), the helmsman turns on the autopilot affectionately called, “Nav Nav”.  It is called this because the Nav button needs to be pushed twice to activate the system. 

control panel
This panel controls the power of the main engine that turns the propeller.
control panel for the bow thruster
The bow thruster control panel

There is a small propeller on the bow called a bow thruster.  This panel controls the thruster.  It is often used when steering the ship in tight places at slow speeds.  I like to think of it as a way to “fine tune” the direction of the ship.

There are many compasses on the ship.

  • the magnetic compass that hangs from the ceiling of the Bridge.
  • LED display of main compass
  • LT Catoire looks through the gyro compass, which is mounted on the deck

How did early people navigate the oceans?

The rudder is found aft (behind) of the propeller.  Both are under the ship.  The helmsman uses the rudder to turn the ship right or left. The rudder moves using hydraulics.  The pointer on the display above moves as the rudder moves.

  • dial displaying position of rudder. currently reads: 2 degrees toward starbooard side
  • gauge attached to rudder showing a range of degrees (0-45) left and right
  • view of rudder attached to hydraulic arms

Personal Log

We have had beautiful weather during this leg of the mission.  This morning, we had a beautiful red sky at sunrise. 

sunrise over Lake Erie; wake of ship visible
Red sky in the morning?  Should I heed warning?

You may be familiar with the saying, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.  Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.”  The Library of Congress states that this concept is also repeated in Shakespeare and in the Bible.

In Shakespeare’s play Venus and Adonis, “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field.  Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.”

In the Bible (Matthew XVI: 2-3,) Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red.  And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”

Weather lore has been around since people have needed to predict the weather.   Several agencies (NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory, Earth Observatory at NASA, and University of Wisconsin-Madison) have studied the science behind this piece of weather lore.

According to the Library of Congress, “When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles.  This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west.  Basically, good weather will follow.

A red sunrise can mean that a high-pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east.  A morning sky that is deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere.  So, rain could be on its way.”

The beautiful sunrise + the NOAA weather report caused people to believe that we might be in for a weather change.

  • satellite weather view showing a storm system moving east from Ashtablua toward Erie
  • view over Lake Erie, all water, toward the horizon. Storm clouds and rain visible in the distance.
  • davits raising the small boat off the water
  • monarch butterfly in flight
  • view out a porthole window, covered in rain drops
  • a hand reaching to press a button on the control panel of the ship's whistle

For the Little Dawgs . . . (Part 1)

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: Only a very important person on board is allowed to sit in this chair.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a leather chair
Dewey, have you gotten permission to sit there?

A: Dewey is sitting in the captain’s (Commanding Officer’s) chair in the Bridge.  CO Jaskoski gave Dewey permission to sit in the chair . . . just this once because he is so cute.

Dewey the beanie monkey sitting in the captain's chair, full view
Dewey chill’n out in the CO’s chair

For the Little Dawgs . . . (Part 2)

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: This is used by the helmsman to drive the ship.

Dewey the beanie monkey propped up on the helm
Hang on Dewey!  I am afraid that you are too short to do the work of a helmsman.

A: Dewey is sitting on the wheel in the Bridge.  Yes, I am afraid that he is too short to do his job.

broader view of the bridge control panels, with Dewey the beanie monkey on the steering wheel or helm
Watch out all who are in front of the bow!  Dewey is trying to drive the ship.

Human-Interest Poll (HIP)

graph of responses to poll: What do you like to do in your free time while on the ship? Read (7 people), talk with family (4), work out (3), play video games (3), other (3)
Other = writing letters, napping, or planning future vacations

Questions from students:

Casey M. asked, “Have you found anything shipwrecks yet?”

LG – Whether we have found something or not, I must respond the same way. It is classified information. I am not allowed to tell you whether we have or have not found anything until I am given permission to do so.   Thank you for your curiosity.

Evelyn A. asked, “Have you seen anything that you haven’t seen before on Lake Erie. Also, what is the deepest spot you have seen so far?

LG: During this leg of the survey the deepest we have measured is 28 meters (~ 92 feet) deep.  I asked one of my shipmates and she said the deepest she has measured is 999.8 meters (3280 ft or over 1000 yards) deep.  That’s deeper than 10 football fields!

I’ve had many new experiences and have seen lots of new things on this voyage.  The one that stands out for me is that we found a shipwreck.  I cannot tell you where we found it – that’s confidential.  It was about 70 meters (230 feet) long – a little shorter than a football field.  It looked as if it had been there for a long time.

Gretta S. asked, “Do you ever miss being on land or miss your neighbors (Wink, wink)?  How was the movie night?  How tall is the ship?  Have the waves ever gotten so high you could feel the sea spray on the deck?  Have you seen both vertebrates and invertebrates?”

 LG: Yes, I miss my family, cats, and neighbors, however, this is a voyage of a lifetime!  The movie night was great.  I didn’t stay up to watch the whole movie – bedtime called.  The ship from “keel to wind birds” is about 100 feet.  Yes, the waves have gotten high enough to wash up on to the main deck – especially during a turn.  I’ve seen a lot of insects (invertebrates) but few vertebrates unless you count my fellow shipmates and some seagulls! 

Josie S. asked, “What is your favorite meal on the ship so far? How do you like sleeping on the top bunk in your room on the ship? Did you see any fish in the lake?  Are you allowed to have electronics on the ship?  I liked the picture of you and Dewey on the ship!!!!  You look happy!”

LG: My favorite meal so far has been prime rib and sweet potatoes.  I like sleeping on the top bunk because I have a porthole.  My bed is very comfy, and my roommate is nice.  I have not seen any fish in the lake; however, we see a lot of seafood in the mess hall (examples: crab legs, cod, grouper, shrimp, oysters, and salmon).  Yes, we are allowed to have electronics on the ship.  I have my cell phone, computer, a small camera for videos, and voice recorder.  We use a lot of technology!  I am happy!  This has been a wonderful learning experience in so many ways.  I cannot wait to share this experience with my students when I return to Dalton.  (P.S. I will give Dewey a hug for you.)

Janie S. said, “We were at Kelleys Island last weekend! When we were there, we saw Canada with our binoculars! Could you see Canada?  What other foods did you have on the Thomas Jefferson ship? The deepest lake out of the great lakes would be Lake Superior. And the shallowest lakes out of the great lakes would be Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.”

LG: That is very cool that you got the chance to go to Kelleys Island and see Canada.  During the day, we cannot see Canada from where we are surveying.  The Operations Officer in Training told me that if you go on the bridge at night, you can see radio towers and lights from the windmills in Canada.  We are approximately 19 nautical miles (about 22 statute miles) from the nearest point of land in Canada which is Long Point National Wildlife Area in Norfolk County, Ontario.  We stay mostly 4 to 8 nautical miles north of Presque Isle, PA.  This link will give you all sorts of information about the depths of the Great Lakes.  Did you know that Lake Superior is eight times deeper than Lake Erie! As for the part of your questions about what other foods we have on TJ – I decided just to include a panoramic picture of one of our snack shelves. Just suffice it to say that we are very well fed!

shelf stocked with snacks
A panoramic view of just one of the snack shelves!

Keep those emailed questions coming!  I love your questions! Contact me at lgrimm@daltonlocal.org.  Be sure to sign your message with your first and last name.  Farewell for now!

George Hademenos: Do You Know the Way to San Jose?…Oops Siri, I Meant to Say Biloxi, July 18, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

George Hademenos

Aboard R/V Tommy Munro

July 19 – 27, 2022

Mission: Gulf of Mexico Summer Groundfish Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Eastern Gulf of Mexico

Date: July 18, 2022

The date July 16, 2022 might seem like a typical Saturday, an ordinary day on the calendar to enjoy the last days of Summer before school starts around the corner. And this would be the case any other year. This year was different. It was a day that was two years in the making and one that this physics teacher could not come soon enough. It was in 2019 that I received the great news I was selected as a NOAA Teacher at Sea for the 2020 research cruise season. I was beyond ready for such an incredible learning opportunity. It would however turn out not to be…at least for the present. This is when life (also known as COVID) intervened. Eventually, thanks to vaccinations, mitigation strategies and effective treatments, conditions started to improve and in 2022, the research cruise season was slowly becoming a reality and I finally received my cruise assignment. Today (July 16, 2022) is the formal beginning of the cruise. So, how did the day begin?

I awoke at my usual time (about 7:00 am-ish) and got washed up and ready for the day ahead. I had begun the packing process several days before and had my luggage ready to go.

However, it doesn’t seem official.

My flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Gulfport was scheduled for late afternoon and had arranged for shuttle pickup at 2:40 pm. This meant I had a lot of time on my hands. I took care of school related professional development activities in preparation for the upcoming school year so it was time well spent.

But still, it doesn’t seem official.

Minutes and the hours passed by quickly and the shuttle driver showed up on time. I placed my luggage in the back, took my seat, fastened my seat belt and we were on the way to the airport.

Even then, it didn’t seem official.

The driver was very pleasant and personable, which is not always a certainty with shuttle drivers.  He got me to the proper terminal, informed me of my gate number and I was on the way to check in my luggage and to security. I now had some waiting to do so I found a seat close to my gate, pulled out my iPhone, logged into my Facebook page and checked in.

screenshot of Facebook post, reading: "George James Hademenos is traveling to Biloxi, Mississippi. I can't think of a better way to wrap up summer than a science cruise aboard the R/V Tommy Munro as a NOAA Teacher at Sea! Let's get this started!"
An announcement on Facebook to kick off my journey as a NOAA Teacher at Sea.

Now, it was official. Even though I knew I would eventually be going on a research cruise for two years, it is not truly official until it is Facebook official. Now all I needed to do is get to Biloxi. After a 4-hour “pilots are past their working hours limit…we have to wait for a new crew” delay, we finally were allowed to board the plane. The flight was a relatively short one and pleasant one at that.

Screenshot of FlightAware report showing the flight path from Dallas to Biloxi, plus details, including that the departure was 3 hours 53 minutes late
An overview of the flight, courtesy of FlightAware, from DFW to Gulfport where I will then travel to Biloxi for my cruise.

The next day was a rest day prior to the departure of the cruise. The weather was gorgeous and served as a perfect opportunity to tour Biloxi. I would like to share with you a couple of photos of my self-guided tour.

top photo: a large overhead arch reads "BILOXI" with the years 1699 and 1999 on each side. bottom photo: an informative sign titled "Biloxi City Park & Welcome Sign" (other print too small to read)
Photos from my self-guided walking tour of Biloxi. A historical Biloxi Welcome Sign located a short distance from my hotel.
another Biloxi sign on a pedestrian walkway over a street
Photos from my self-guided walking tour of Biloxi. A Biloxi sign located down the street from my hotel.
the guitar-shaped sign on the outside of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Photos from my self-guided walking tour of Biloxi. There are 8 casinos in Biloxi with one of them being the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It is a casino hard to miss with its upright large guitar prominently situated in front.
images of an informative sign (too small to read); front of City Hall; side view of City Hall
Photos from my self-guided walking tour of Biloxi. A collage of photos depicting Biloxi City Hall.
mural depicting Dr. Martin Luther King on a building along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd; the street sign is visible at the intersection
Photos from my self-guided walking tour of Biloxi. This is one of my favorite photos of a mural depicting Dr. Martin Luther King taken at Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.

As I was heading back to the hotel, I was looking for a bite to eat and walked by a restaurant I had heard rave reviews about so I decided to stop in. The restaurant was Half Shell Oyster House and the reviews are spot on!

top: sandwich paper reading Half Shell Oyster House. bottom: shrimp po-boy
Photos from my self-guided walking tour of Biloxi. Lunch consisting of a shrimp po-boy and fries courtesy of Half Shell Oyster House.  

I got a shrimp po-boy and it was just as good as it looks. It was a great relaxing day in Biloxi but the exciting part of the trip happens tomorrow when we board the R/V Tommy Munro for the cruise. There will be more detailed information about the ship, the research, the crew and the day-to-day operations of the science team in subsequent posts. In fact, the next blog post will be shared with you from the ship.

As I round out this post, I would like to let you know of a couple of items to expect in the blog posts that follow that will not only provide insight to the research conducted aboard the R/V Tommy Munro and the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, but also will inspire and stimulate interest in learning more about marine science.

I would first like to introduce you to a Google Site that I created for this experience entitled, Welcome to my Classroom at Sea. The site can be accessed by the link below:

https://sites.google.com/g.risd.org/welcometomyclassroomatsea/home

In this site, I not only introduce myself and discuss the research to be conducted on my assigned cruise, but I have also included ideas for ocean-related projects as well as a host of various resources to explore all aspects of marine science.

Secondly, I would like to introduce you to a recurring segment on this blog that centers around the Ocean Literacy Framework and the seven essential principles of ocean sciences, shown in the infographic below.

"The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences: 1) Earth has one big ocean with many features. 2) The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth. 3) The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate. 4) The ocean makes Earth habitable. 5) The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems. 6) The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected. 7) The ocean is largely unexplored.
An infographic detailing the 7 Essential Principles of Ocean Science, developed to improve Ocean Literacy in the classroom.  

The seven principles outline the integral fundamental concepts that all students Grades K – 12 should not only recognize from their science experiences but have an in-depth understanding as to how ocean sciences relate to the sustainability of and human life on Earth. Each blog post will highlight one of the seven principles of Ocean Literacy and an invitation to respond to three questions about the principle. There are no right or wrong answers – the questions serve not as an opportunity to answer yes or no, or to get answers right or wrong; rather, these questions serve as an opportunity not only to assess what you know or think about the scope of the principle but also to learn, explore, and investigate the demonstrated principle. If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please indicate so in the blog and I would be glad to answer your questions and initiate a discussion.

For this blog post, I will start with Principle 1: Earth has one big ocean with many features. After you have had some time to think about this principle, please click on the link below:

https://tinyurl.com/mryxzmfp

which will take you to a Padlet (an electronic bulletin board) with three questions to answer. Please click on the rounded plus sign and record your answer on the blank note that appears under each column. Once you have finished typing your response, click on Publish in the upper right-hand corner and you are done with that question. Once you finish your responses for all three questions, you may then close the page. Thank you for participating in this exercise and I look forward to reading your responses.

Laura Grimm: What Floats Your Boat? July 17,  2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 17,  2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42ᵒ 13.30 N

Longitude: 080ᵒ 13.60 W

Sky Conditions: Broken

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9.4 knots

Wind Direction: 089ᵒ E

Lake Temperature: 23.2 ᵒC

Wave Height: 1 ft.

Dry Bulb: 23.6 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 20.9 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity:76 %

Sunrise over Lake Erie; wake of ship visible extending toward horizon
Good morning from NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson!

Science and Technology Log

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson at sea
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is one BIG ship.  Here is a list of some of its characteristics:

  • Length overall: 208 ft
  • Beam: 45 ft
  • Draft: 14 ft below the keel (15.6 ft below the transducer pod)
  • Registered gross tonnage/Displacement: 1767 tons
  • Cruising speed: 11 kts
  • Survey Speed: 10 kts
  • Cruising range: 19,200 NM, 45 days
  • Authorized Officers and Crew: 34
  • Scientific Berths: 4 (They can take up to 4 visiting scientists.)

Follow this link for more information about NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

One thing not on this list is that currently, TJ is carrying four other boats + 6 life rafts aboard.  Of the boats aboard, two are the survey launches (mentioned in a previous blog), one is a Fast Rescue Boat (FRB) that is very fast and maneuverable (more about the FRBs in a future post), and the last is a work boat affectionately called 1717.  It is an inflatable boat with a ridged hull.  It is frequently used to do preservation work on the hull and inspect areas for future work.

Today, the crew used the 1717 to do a crew transfer to Erie, PA.  A crane (not a davit) is used to move this boat on and off the ship.

  • Crewmembers wearing hard hats stand in position around the boat. a crane hook lowers into view.
  • crewmembers secure hook to boat with harness attaching at four points
  • crewmembers steady boat as crane lifts it off the deck
  • crewmembers stand back as crane lifts boat above everyone's heads
  • crane swinging boat over the fantail
  • view of the boat suspended over the water
  • view of the boat suspended over the water, lowering
  • boat suspended over the water by the crane
  • boat being lowered to the water's surface
  • view of boat on water's surface, still attached to crane hook
  • overhead view of the boat, now with three crewmwmbers aboard

Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson runs the crane and Chief Boatswain (CB) Pooser supervises getting the 1717 work boat in and out of the water.

Able Bodied Seaman Thompson and Chief Boatswain Pooser pose for a photo on deck. They are wearing blue hardhats.
AB Thompson & CB Pooser get it done!
AB Thompson operating the crane with various levers
The crane can lift 3800 lbs when it is extended 50 feet.  Running this powerful piece of machinery is second nature for Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson.

There are many different types of ships.  People have been using ships for a long time! 

According to Britannica Kids,

“People use different types of ships for many different purposes. Some of the main types are trade ships, warships, industrial ships, and pleasure vessels, or cruise ships.

“Trade ships carry different types of cargo. Container ships carry cargo packaged in large containers. General cargo ships carry lumber, farm products, and other goods that are hard to ship in containers. Bulk ships carry coal, grains, and other loose cargo. Tankers carry oil and other liquid cargo. Refrigerated ships, or reefers, carry meat, fish, and other products that need to stay cold.

“Navies use several different kinds of warships. The largest are aircraft carriers. A carrier has a large flat surface called a flight deck that airplanes can use for takeoffs and landings. Other types of military ships include cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.

“Industrial ships are sometimes called factory ships. Some industrial ships are oil rigs. They have big machinery that pumps oil from the ocean floor. Another type of factory ship processes fish that the crew catches at sea.

“Before airplanes made long-distance travel quick and easy, people traveled in ships called ocean liners. Ocean liners had dining rooms and cabins where guests could sleep. Today this type of passenger ship is called a cruise ship. Cruise ships carry tourists and vacationers to seaside locations around the world. Cruise ships often have swimming pools, shopping malls, and live entertainment.”

A cargo ship loaded with freight containers sails toward its destination.
A cargo ship loaded with freight containers sails toward its destination.

History of Ships

From Britannica Kids:

“In early times people moved ships with oars. Many early ships also used the wind to move across the seas. These ships had sails—large, raised pieces of cloth that caught the wind. Ancient Egyptian warships had at least 40 oars and a single sail. The powerful longships of the Vikings also had oars and one sail.

“By the 1400s European ships had several sails. Sailing ships known as galleons carried large guns along their sides for making war. In the 1800s long, slim ships called clippers also had several sails. Clippers traveled faster than any ship before.

“Ships were made mainly of wood until the middle of the 1800s. At that time iron ships began to replace wooden ones. Steam-powered engines also began to replace sails.

Today most ships are made of steel or other modern materials. They have internal-combustion engines that run on diesel fuel or gas. Some modern ships run on nuclear power.”

Human-Interest Poll of the Crew

"What were the highest seas you have ever experienced? (Note to self: stay out of the Bering Sea!) 65ft in the Bering Sea, AK; 40+ ft in the Bering Sea, AK; 25 to 30 ft in the South China Sea; 20 to 30 ft approximately 2100 nm SE of Virginia; 20-25 ft in the Gulf of Alaska in January; 19 ft somewhere off the East Coast around North Carolina; 1+ ft off the coast of Presque Isle"
Crew’s responses to “What were the highest seas you have ever experienced?”

Personal Log – Christmas in July!

The U.S. Postal Service does not have an official moto.  If it did, it could be, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  What about Santa Claus?  He seems to deliver packages all over the world no matter the distance or weather!

Today, we had a delivery from a type of “Santa”.  At least that is what it felt like!  The U.S. Coast Guard delivered a package directly to our ship this afternoon. 

illustration of Santa on a stand up paddleboard, with gifts
Here comes Santa! He is bringing a very important package for our engineering department!

Our engineering department is very happy.  Maybe now they have what they need to fix one of our davits.  If the davits can be fixed, we will be able to deploy a launch (small survey boat) to assist with the survey mission.

U.S. coast guard boat approaches
Here comes the U.S. Coast Guard!
view Coast Guard members aboard the Coast Guard boat; one holds a box under his left arm
Package delivery!
Coast Guard vessel departing
Thank you very much!  See you later!

It was fun to have some visitors, even if they just stayed for a few minutes.

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He is sitting is a very important chair.  But which chair?

Dewey the beanie monkey looking over the back of a swivel chair
Peak ‘a Boo, Dewey!
Dewey the beanie monkey sitting in a swivel chair, behind four tall levers, on deck
There are some clues in this picture!
a crewmember in a blue hard hat stands in front of the swivel chair, operating the crane as it carries a boat back on board NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
Can you find the chair in this picture?

Dewey is sitting in the chair that AB Thompson sits in to control the crane that lifts the boat in and out of the water.

Did you know . . .

Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes?  It is the eleventh-largest lake in the whole world!

As I sign off, I will leave you with this thought: There are so many examples of career opportunities on Thomas Jefferson.  Do you like water?  Ships?  Machines?  Technology?  Cooking?  If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, a career with NOAA may be for you!  Think about it!

Laura Grimm: The Eyes of the Beast, July 16, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 16, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 14ᵒ 13.8’ N

Longitude: 080 12.6’ W

Sky Conditions: Scattered clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9.8 knots

Wind Direction: 212 SW

Lake Temperature: 23.0 C

Wave Height: 1 ft.

Dry Bulb: 20.6 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 16.5 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 56 %

a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Presque Isle
Current progress of the hydrographic survey near Presque Isle, PA

Science and Technology Log

There is a lot of technology used in the science of hydrography.  Each system and software have a monitor that needs to be checked and manipulated to be sure good data is being acquired.  I like to call this array of monitors the “Eyes of the Beast”.  At the Acquisition Desk, one can see what each of 10-15 cameras, software programs, navigational systems, and sensors are doing.

A view of 10 computer monitors set up at the Acquisition Desk
The “Eyes of the Beast”

A description of what each monitor is connected to will occur below the diagram.  I will refer to each monitor by letter.

A grid of boxes lettered A-J (4 on top, 3 in the middle row, 3 on the bottom)
Letters I will refer to as I describe the “Eyes of the Beast”

A = This is where you will find a suite of security-like cameras on the fantail (deck at the stern or back end of the ship) that monitor various pieces of equipment.  These include the MVP (Moving Vessel Profiler) and the (SSS) Side Scan Sonar.  The MVP and the SSS are attached to different winches on the stern and can be used at the same time.  We are currently not using the SSS because the water that is being surveyed is too shallow.  The TJ will often use the SSS between 25-40 meters of water.  We are surveying water with the MVP that is between 10-20 meters deep.

B = The monitor shows what is going on with a software called “Hypack”.  This displays data that has been processed (it is blue and green in this picture) and coverage of data being collected real-time that has yet to be processed (yellow).  Blue = water that is between 22-25 meters of depth; Green = water that is between 10-22 meters of depth.  It also has the nautical chart displayed in the background showing water (light blue) and land (tan).  It helps hydrographers visually keep track of what data has been taken and what still needs to be completed.

C & D = These are currently not conveying any information.   They can be used when other sensors like the SSS and a different Multibeam Echo Sounder, referred to as the EM 710 (pronounced “seven-ten”), are in use.

Warning!  Warning!  Nerd Alert!

  • The MBES that we are currently using to acquire data is more technically called the EM 2040 (pronounced “twenty-forty”).  It uses between 200-400 kilohertz (kHz) of sound energy.  One kHz equals one 1000 hertz (1000 Hz).  Therefore, 200 kHz = 200,000 Hz.  A hertz is a measurement of frequency of sound or how quickly a wave of sound moves past a fixed point.  1 hertz = 1 cycle per second.  The EM 2040 can measure as deep as 300 meters.  It is for higher resolution of images in shallow water.
  • The EM 710 emits sound energy in the range of 70-100 kHz.  It is used to survey deeper waters and can image as deep as 2300 meters.  The resolution is lower than the 2040.
  • Increasing kHz = use in shallow water with more resolution
  • Decreasing kHz = use in deeper water with less resolution

E = This monitor is also linked to the Hypack software.  It is used to plan the survey (what “lines” to drive), show the real-time acquisition of data, and help to communicate with the bridge – letting them know where to go next.  There is constant conversation between the bridge and the hydrographers in the survey room.  They frequently discuss what line should the ship go to next.  They also talk over the width of the lines with respect to sonar coverage (and adjust them accordingly) and plan what will happen when there are small fishing vessel or other obstructions (buoys, primarily) in the area.

F = MVPs actions and controls are shown on this monitor.  The Hydrographer in Charge (HIC) can also keep an eye on the MVP by looking at camera monitor “A” explained above.

screenshot of a computer display
This is the computer that controls the MVP.  The Hydrographer in Charge (HIC) does this from the acquisition desk in the Plot Room.  The blue line above shows the movement of the MVP and its location in the water column.  It was sent down to 1.5 meters above the floor of the lake.

G = This is the monitor for the Positioning & Attitude System (POS).  It provides information with respect to the ship’s position (latitude and longitude), its direction and how it is “sitting” in the water.

Meet the Crew – Erin Cziraki (CHST)

Erin sits at the acquisition desk, with a hand on the computer mouse, looking at one of the many monitors
Erin Cziraki, Chief Hydrographic Survey Technician (CHST)

There is a soft spoken, ever pleasant Chief Hydrographic Survey Technician (CHST), who is great at taming the “beast”.  Her name is Erin Cziraki.  She supervises the survey department that is comprised of 6 members, makes the watch schedules, oversees training, is a mentor to new hydrographers as they work through their first project, compiles a lot of data for reports, and has various other administrative duties.  She also stands watch at the data acquisition desk and serves as a substitute when needed.  If you need assistance with trouble shooting technical problems or answers to questions regarding hydrographic data, Erin is your go to person!  She is very knowledgeable, competent, and approachable.

How long have you been with NOAA?  Please explain your school and career path.  Erin went to college at Coastal Carolina University and majored in marine science.  Her major included classes in marine chemistry, geology, physical oceanography, physical geography, and biology.  After graduation, she was unable to secure employment in the field of marine science, so she entered the field of veterinarian medicine.  She worked as the customer service supervisor of a veterinarian hospital for 5 years.  The dream of working in marine science was ever present, so she went back to school at the local community college to obtain a degree in marine technology after which she got a job with NOAA.  She has worked as a hydrographic scientist for four years.

What do you do when you are off the ship?  Do you have any hobbies?  Erin enjoys scuba diving (in fact, she is an instructor) and enjoys traveling.

You are a role model for others when it comes to following your dream.  Thank you, Erin, for your expertise, attention to detail, and service to NOAA. 

Literary Connection

Earlier this summer, I read The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw.  I came across a real-life reason for hydrographic surveys!  Read this account of an early 1900s shipwreck off the coast of Maine.

“Soon they were in the midst of a howling northeaster, and a blinding snow squall.  It was then that the captain decided, for the safety of his crew and vessel, which were both being wracked by the storm, to try to find safe harbor, a lee from the seas that threatened to pound men and boat to pieces.  The southwestern and leeward shore of this mountainous island would have been the ideal place to anchor and wait out the gale, if it hadn’t been for the ledges that peppered the area.  From Western Ear to Trail Point, vicious ledges lay just beneath the surface, while other boldly poke their heads above.  These remote outcroppings of rocky peaks are surrounded by deceivingly deep water; some rocks are as far as a mile from the coast.  The men, convinced that they were doomed if they remained at sea, took their chances at navigating the treacherous gauntlet.”

If only the captain had had access to a NOAA hydrographic survey of the area!  He could have navigated the island safely and all souls aboard would have been saved!  (Spoiler alert: they all swam to shore safely although they almost froze to death in the frigid waters!)

There are LOTS of books about adventures at sea at your local public library!  One of my favorites is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.  Check it out!

For the little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey today?  Hint: It is important to visit this room to keep your clothes fresh and clean.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a grated metal surface
Oh, no! Dewey it might be dangerous to stay in there!

A: Dewey is in the laundry room.  There are two washers and dryers available to the crew . . . soap and fabric softener are provided.  We are asked to only wash full loads and not to use the washer when we are in heavy seas (periods of time when the waves are big).

LAUNDRY 3-22-2
Sign on the Laundry Room door
Dewey the beanie monkey sits in a dryer
Dewey in the dryer
view of two washing machines labeled Washer #2 and Washer #1
I hope Dewey doesn’t go exploring and end up in the washing machine!

Personal Log

One of the questions I have received from my family is, “What is your day like?  How do you spend your time?”  Well, each day, we receive a Plan of the Day (POD) from the Operations Officer (OPS).  It is a schedule of what is happening on ship that day.  It also assigns you your watch or duties.  I use this information to plan my personal schedule.  A typical day for me might look like the following (I will be stating times using a 24-hour clock):

0510 – Rise and Shine

0530 – Report to my watch as a Hydrographer in Charge in Training (HIC-IT) at the Acquisition Station in the Plot Room

0730 – my watch is over, and it is time for breakfast

0800 through 1130 – I usually work on my blog post, interview crew members, hang out on the Bridge, do whatever it takes to learn about all aspects of living and working on Thomas Jefferson.  There are often meetings scheduled for the morning that I am not expected to attend.

1130 – Lunch

1200 through 1630 – I attend various safety training sessions, observe what others are doing on the ship (like yesterday when I watched the Ensigns training in the Fast Rescue Boat), safety drills, work on blog posts, etc.  This is also the time when I work out in the Exercise Room, take a shower, and/or do laundry.

1630 – Dinner

1700-1930 – Continue the work that was started earlier in the day, read, play a card game, enjoy looking out at the lake, or sometimes we have a “Morale Event” like BINGO or a movie.  If we have good cell phone coverage, I call my family.

1930 – Bedtime!

It is a full day!  Everyday is different, and you can be sure I am learning tons and making friends.  To be honest, sometimes I forget that I am on a ship, especially when the waves are small.

Ship Joke of the Day

Q: What do you call a boat owned by a bunch of football players?

A: Sportsman-ship!

Laura Grimm: Who are these people in uniform? July 13, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 13, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42 10.30’ N

Longitude: 080 17.60’ W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 6.1 knots

Wind Direction: 288 W

Lake Temperature: 22.0 C

Wave Height: 1 foot

Dry Bulb: 21.1 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 17.7 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 75%

Electronic nautical chart showing many folding-over parallel lines marking the back and forth track of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson off Presque Isle
We are making great progress! This is an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) display of our current hydrographic survey progress. ECDIS is a system used for nautical navigation that serves as an alternative to paper nautical charts. The colorful lines indicate where we have used the Multibeam Echo Sensor (MBES) to measure the depth and physical features of the lake bottom.

Science and Technology Log

Seeing several people aboard in uniform caused me to ask, “Is NOAA part of the military?”

illustration of the NOAA Corps insignia; an eagle stands on a globe with two ship anchors crossed behind it. the eagle has a shield with blue stars and red and white stripes. it reads: NOAA COMMISSIONED CORPS 1917
NOAA Commissioned Corps Insignia

According to the NOAA Corps website, “The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps) is one of the nation’s eight uniformed services. NOAA Corps officers are an integral part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and serve with the special trust and confidence of the President.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known as the NOAA Corps, is one of just two uniformed services with no enlisted or warrant officers. The Corps is made up of engineers, oceanographers, geologists, and meteorologists (among others) who support federal departments in earth science projects. The officers operate NOAA’s ships, fly aircraft, manage research projects, conduct diving operations, and serve in staff positions throughout NOAA. Prior to going out to sea, NOAA Corps officers attend 18 weeks of training at the US Coast Guard Academy’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) in New London, CT. They are not always out to sea; NOAA Corps officers who work on ships rotate between driving the ship for two years and supporting science missions ashore for three years. NOAA Corps officers enable NOAA to fulfill mission requirements, meet changing environmental concerns, take advantage of emerging technologies, and serve as environmental first responders. 

The history of the NOAA Corps can be traced back to 1807 when Thomas Jefferson signed a bill establishing the “Survey of the Coast,” which charted the country’s coasts and waterways. Their mission has expanded well be