NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
August 29 – September 10, 2005
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Eastern Prince William Sound, Alaska
Date: September 9, 2005
Weather Data from Bridge
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy
Visibility: 10 nm (nautical miles)
Wind: 12 knots
Sea Wave Height: 0-1ft
Swell Wave Height: 0
Sea Water Temperature: 12.2°C
Sea Level Pressure: 1022.8 mb (millibars)
Science and Technology Log
Early this morning at 4:35 am, RAINIER and her crew got underway for Valdez. My twelve days aboard the ship have gone by quickly, and I am excited about all the experiences I will have to take back to my students. The photo below depicts one of my favorite parts of the hydrographic mission: taking launches out into the sound to survey the seafloor. During these workdays, the crewmembers took the time to train me on how the ELAC and RESON sonar work. I was able to actually participate in all of the ship’s data collection and operations. One of the most interesting software programs I had the opportunity to use was the HYPAC program that helps guide the coxswain of the boat. The technology and equipment are key elements in the current data collection and analysis surrounding hydrography.
During informal interviews with crewmembers, I learned a great deal about the logistics and planning of a two-week survey such as this one. Most of the crew resides in or around Seattle where the ship will remain during the winter. During this time, officers will write their reports on the survey, data will be processed in Seattle, then delivered to Silver Springs, MD where nautical charts will be updated. The Captain of RAINIER, Commander Guy Noll, gave me another insight into the purpose for this project. The data collected could be used in the future to better understand ecosystems, fish habitats and other aspects of the hydro “big picture.” NOAA collects and organizes the data for the maritime community, as well as for future scientific investigations.
I feel very fortunate that I was given this opportunity to take part in a leg of RAINIER’s journey. It is interesting to think that on Monday, I will be back to school with my students, while RAINIER and her crew will be getting underway for the next leg of the survey back to the Columbia Glacier, then on to Juneau. I’m sure their future missions will go smoothly, as did this one, considering the competence and dedication of the crew. With my plane leaving early tomorrow morning, I now have a little bit of time to go explore the town of Valdez, take some final pictures, and hang out with some of the new friends I made aboard RAINIER.