Melissa Fye, April 11, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Melissa Fye
Onboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
April 4 – 25, 2005

Mission: Coral Reef Ecosystem Survey
Geographical Area: Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Date: April 11, 2005

Main Control Console in the Engineering Department
Main Control Console in the Engineering Department

Location: Latitude: 23*36.3’North, Longitude: 164*43.0’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Visibility: 10
Wind Direction:90
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 2-4 feet
Swell Wave Height: 5-7 feet
Sea Level Pressure: 1018.8
Cloud Cover: 2/8 Cu, As, Si
Temperature outside: 24.4

Science and Technology Log

Early before dawn the HI’IAKALAI departed Bank 66 and headed back toward the French Frigate Shoals.  Upon reaching the French Frigate Shoals, the AHI research boat was launched. Lead scientist Scott Ferguson, surveyor Jeremy Miller, and scientist Jonathan Weiss clamored aboard the AHI for another day of survey with multibeam sonar equipment fixed to the bottom of the AHI.  The AHI can get into the much shallower shoals and atolls to survey the ocean bottom. They surveyed until late in the afternoon near 23 degrees 49.6’North and 166 degrees 18.9′ West. Around 8:30 AM, a second boat, the HI#1 speedboat was deployed towing a CREWS buoy.

Lead scientists for this operation were Kyle Hogrefe and scientist Jeremy Jones, Executive Officer John Caskey, and Joe Chojnacki also accompanied him. This type of buoy is tall and slender and its acronym stands for Coral Reef Early Warning System. One system on board the buoy measures the amount of photosynthesis being made by organisms living in coral in that area of the water. It helps scientists determine if they reef is healthy or not. While on the dive to install the buoy, Jeremy Jones was underneath the buoy to tie it off and a strong current pushed him into the buoy anchor.  He soon resurfaced and scrambled to get back in the water because a 9 foot Tiger Shark was seen nearby. He was brought back to the HI’IAKALAI and examined by the Medical Officer’s onboard. Because this work can be dangerous, the ship crew and scientists are always thinking about safety.

fye_logsoHogrefe and the others returned to the dive operation site to complete the work and to tow in the old CREWS buoy. At 4:45, the AHI research boat returned to the ship and at 5:45 the HI#1 also returned for the night. They were both lifted up on board using a series of cranes. The HI’IAKALAI resumed running benthic habitat mapping lines across deeper parts of the ocean.  I spent the day on a guided tour of the ship’s machinery in the engineering department below decks.  Lobo Thomala, Chief Engineer, guided me through the masses of generators, compressors, ac units, fire fighting equipment, converters, propulsion units, etc. that make the ship sail.  It was interesting to see the main control console, which contained old and new (computerized) versions of controlling the ship. There are several backup ways of steering the ship if the computer systems go down, which would be done manually by the chief engineer in the hull of the ship. The rudder could even be controlled by a system of chains if all else fails. The “brain” of the ship is integrated and controlled by computer systems, and actually some of the systems are DOS, which the chief engineer can read.  GE still makes the parts to replace the DOS system so it will remain that way.

Personal Log

After eating breakfast this morning, I sent out my logs and emails to students and other interested parties. I attended a tour of the working parts of the ship, lead by Chief Engineer Lobo Thomala.  I was shown the water making unit for our drinking water, air compressors, main control console, port power converter, main propulsion unit, etc. It is very tight quarters down below, which actually rides 16 feet below the water’s surface. For some areas you have to wear protective ear wear because the engine room is so loud. It is also very hot in some areas and very cool, air conditioned in the computer areas of the ship. There is fire fighting equipment in every area. The amount of detailed work and responsibility heaped on the engineers was impressive to see.  The Chief Engineer basically controls whether or not the ship sails, and was part of the last graduating class of American Marine Academy in Louisiana. He acts almost as a trainer now, working on a ship, training the other engineers, and moving on to another ship in about a year’s time.

The engineer department on board is actually short handed right now, possessing only 4 engineers, rather than the normal six.  They’ve commented that they are a “dying breed” and it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill positions. I also spent the rest of the evening editing swaths of data about the ocean floor bottom for the scientists and I took readings from the bridge and learned how to do the hourly bridge weather with the Operations Officer. Information on the cloud cover, temperature, sea heights, and pressure are measured (listed at the beginning of each log). The night brought on answering emails from students and a newspaper reporter.

QUESTION OF THE DAY for my fourth grade students: One important piece of weather equipment used on the bridge is a barometer and readings are taken from the barometer every hour. What does a barometer measure? From the information listed at the top of this log, does a barometer measure the  a) temperature  b) cloud cover c) sea level pressure What was the barometric reading for this log?____ What can the barometric pressure tell a sailor about the weather? Think back to low pressure and high pressure warnings…………

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