Melissa Fye, April 16, 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 16, 2005

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

Sunrise brought the morning launch of the AHI, Acoustic Habitat Investigator, once again. Scientist Joyce Miller and Jeremy Jones deployed the sonar research boat to 23 degrees 43.6′ N and 166 degrees 15.7′ West to map shallow areas of the ocean bottom. Throughout the morning and mid-afternoon, the ship, HI’IALAKAI, resumed running benthic habitat mapping lines; filling in gaps around the reef from previous runs.  Scientists onboard continued editing swaths of sonar data in the computer lab (dry lab).  By 1630, the AHI was recovered in the southern work area and lifted back onto the ship using the cranes. Ship based TOAD camera operations began at 1800 as the sun was setting. The TOAD was set down in the water off the aft deck.  The camera recorded images as the ship drifted. Images of coral, sand beds, and small fish zipped by on the monitors. Scientist Chojnacki, commented he would email me some of the images at a later date, since we couldn’t capture them any other way at the time.  By 2300, TOAD camera operations concluded and the ship resumed benthic mapping around the outer circumference of the French Frigate Shoals.

Personal Log

I awoke from a much calmer night at sea and felt refreshed! The day was spent on the ship, interviewing members of the NOAA corps and crew. I also helped edit pixels of data for the multibeam sonar mapping project ongoing in the dry lab. The following interviews were conducted aboard ship on the bridge:

The four to eight watch shift on the bridge is conducted on a daily basis by Operations Officer Lt. Matt Wingate, ENS Sarah Jones, and ABS Gaetano Maurizio. Lt. Wingate is originally from Connecticut and is the Operations Officer for the HI’IALAKAI. Besides having watch duties on the bridge, he is responsible for collaborating with the lead scientist and CO to act as a go between to establish the P.O.D. (plan of the day) for each day at sea. He posts the P.O.D. around the ship every morning to inform all hands of the day’s activities.  His job involves some paperwork handling and coordinating details. He comments that the best part of his job is that it is different everyday, and every cruise has varied goals. He enjoys the variety on the job but does admit being far from friends and family can be a hindrance in this line of work.

Like many other people onboard the ship, the lieutenant has an alternative sleep schedule.  He works from four p.m. to eight p.m. as well as four a.m. to eight a.m. everyday. This type of schedule forces a person to sleep during daylight hours in order to get sufficient rest. Mr. Wingate possesses a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and advises anyone thinking of a career in the NOAA corps (officer division) to obtain a degree in science to meet the requirements. It is also helpful to not get seasick in this field of work! The resources he uses the most for his job are the lead scientist and the computer.  He will spend an average or 190 days at sea this year, usually in intervals of 3 weeks at sea and 6 days on land in a one month period. He is the third highest ranking officer aboard the HI’IALAKAI.

Ensign Sarah Jones was also present on watch this afternoon. ENS Jones is originally from Kansas and joined the HI’IALAKAI officers in June of last year. Her undergraduate degree is in meteorology, a perfect fit for the extensive weather data being collected everyday aboard the ship and NOAA’s objectives. Upon entering the NOAA Corps (the nation’s smallest and most elite uniformed division) she was given a three month hands-on course on driving a ship, using radar, Nobel Tec, and other various equipment located on the helm.  Her responsibilities while on watch include the equipment on the helm, observing the depth sounders, using paper charts and the Nobel Tec system to see the ship’s course across the Pacific Ocean.  She works with the scientists in the survey room (using walkie-talkies) to keep the ship on course, following established survey lines to fill in benthic habitat data needed for the scientific work being conducted onboard. She commented that the perks of her job include the travel and dive training, and the worst part is the occasional sea sickness she suffers from. Patience, situational awareness, and the ability to multi-task are all traits ENS Jones believes someone should embody to perform well at this type of job. Her current assignment will be approximately two years at sea, then a three year land assignment.  After accruing years with NOAA she can then decide to go back out to sea or apply for positions in the aviation sector of the organization.

Lastly, I interviewed ABS Gaetano Maurizio.  ABS stands for Able Bodied Seaman, which encompasses a myriad of responsibilities. ABS Maurizio originates from Molokai, Hawaii and was in the U.S. Navy prior to his current position at NOAA.  He has brought with him knowledge of maritime search and rescue and fire fighting from his previous training in the Navy. His current job encompasses being a coxswain (steering the ship or a Zodiac boat), a deck hand (involved in any aspect on deck, including crane systems), preservation of the ship in emergencies (like fire fighting), and he also occasionally helps the engineering department with tasks as they arise. He comments the pay he receives in this job is encouraging and he enjoys the travel.  Drawbacks include being far from friends and family for long periods of time. ABS Gaetano Maurizio reflects on the fact that someone should be mechanically inclined and react quickly to stress or emergencies to perform well at this job.

The ongoing interviews I conduct are helping me to better understand the interdependence between the officers, crew, scientists, and engineers aboard the HI’IALAKAI!

QUESTION OF THE DAY for my fourth grade students:  Multiple Choice! The ocean floor is full of nutrients and food particles resulting from___________________. a) tornadoes.  b) water currents. c) salt water. d) decaying matter settling on the bottom.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’s Question: All living things in an area, together with their environment, is called an ecosystem.

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