Thomas Nassif, July 15, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Thomas Nassif
Onboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
July 15 – 24, 2005

Mission: Invasive Lionfish Survey
Geographical Area: Southeast U.S.
Date: July 15, 2005

THE BOUNTY: A replica of The Bounty, an 18th Century British Naval Research Vessel.
THE BOUNTY: A replica of The Bounty, an 18th Century British Naval Research Vessel.

Weather Data

Latitude: 34°43’N
Longitude: 76°42’W
Visibility: 10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 200°
Wind speed: 11 kts
Sea wave height: less than 1 foot
Swell wave height: none
Sea water temperature: 87 F, 30.5°C
Sea level pressure: 1017.9 mb
Relative Humidity: 86%
Cloud cover: 2/8, Cumulus, Stratocumulus, Cirrostratus

Science and Technology Log

My first morning aboard the NOAA research vessel NANCY FOSTER began with a loud pounding sound on my door at 2am. I immediately awoke to a voice from the Lieutenant, “Thomas Nassif, you must move your car immediately!” Evidently I was parked directly in front of a giant crane on the portside of the ship. Later in the day I marveled at the enormous size of the NANCY FOSTER, which stands at 187 feet long and 894 tons. Eight SCUBA divers diligently worked on deck to ensure that their diving equipment was in good working condition when the deep-sea dives get underway tomorrow. We were scheduled to depart Morehead City today, but due to a problem with the ship’s computer system we are not leaving for the open sea until tomorrow morning at 1000 hours. Two specialists arrived early this afternoon to work on the computer system that runs the entire ship, including propulsion, navigation, lighting, and air conditioning. Imagine how complicated the computer system must be, having been built in Canada, programmed with Russian software, and used on an American ship! Evidently they are the only computer specialists in the entire US who know how to fix the NANCY FOSTER’s intricate computer system.

Thomas Nassif stands in front of the NOAA research vessel NANCY FOSTER.
Thomas Nassif stands in front of the NOAA research vessel NANCY FOSTER.

We took advantage of the delay in our departure to walk along the Morehead City Port to check out The Bounty, a replica of the legendary 18th century British Naval ship that sank off the shores of Tahiti. I imagined what it must have been like to be aboard The Bounty in the 1700’s. Unlike the NANCY FOSTER’s heavy reliance on computers to run the entire ship, the Bounty only needed a ship’s wheel for steering and enormous sails to propel the ship forward. This replica of the Bounty was built in 1961 for the Marlin Brando movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” and more recently appeared in “Pirates of the Carribean.” The original Bounty was an 18th century British Naval ship under the direction of Captain Bligh. A member of the crew, Fletcher Christian, led a mutiny against the ship’s captain to protest his extremely strict and regimented control over the crew. While on route to Tahiti, a mutiny erupted between the Captain Bligh and the crew over whether to proceed around the tip of South America (Cape Horn), one of the most treacherous routes for ships to circumnavigate. And to think that one of the major goals of the Tahiti expedition was to collect Bread Fruit for possible use as a food staple for British colonies in the Caribbean. One of the scientists aboard our cruise commented: “I tasted bread fruit once in Micronesia. I must admit it was one of the foulest tasting foods I’d ever had. Bread fruit is hard, yellow, grainy, and terribly bitter.”

Question of the day

How many people are aboard the ship for the Lion Fish Cruise?

There are 16 crew members aboard the NANCY FOSTER to ensure the ship runs properly and 7 scuba divers who will conduct deep-sea research on Lion Fish. Additionally there are two reporters from the Philadelphia Enquirer who are researching the Gulf Stream. And finally one teacher (that’s me) who plans to create a video documentary about the Lion Fish cruise.


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