NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 23 – August 11, 2006
Mission: Hydrographic Survey of the Shumagin Islands
Geographical Area: Alaska
Date: July 26, 2006
Weather from the Bridge
Visibility: 10+ nautical miles (nm)
Wind Direction: South/southwest
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Waves: 1 foot
Sea Water Temp.: 10.7 ° C
Sea Level Pressure: 1024.0 millibars (mb)
Temp. (°C): 11.7 (air temperature)
Science and Technology Log
Today began with clear, blue skies and calm water. It was a very welcome change for me from the rocking and rolling we’ve been experiencing as well as the clouds and drizzly rain. Since we finished all of the survey lines that were planned for the Semedi Islands area, we are now underway to our next survey spot in the Shumagin Islands which we should reach and anchor at by this evening. We did some “biological sampling” this morning as several crewmembers cast their fishing lines off the fantail (back) of the ship. Since the first spot wasn’t producing as expected, the ship was moved to a second notable location. Within minutes of the fishing lines being out into the water, 4 halibut and 1 Irish lord were on deck. The Irish lord was put back into the water, but the halibut were filleted on the deck. Maybe that’ll be dinner one night!!!
Another nice surprise this morning were the sightings of whale in the distance as they blew water and swam around. A pod of Dall’s porpoise also played again on the bow (front) of the ship for a while. I felt like they knew I was watching them so they were showing off.
Who’s Who on the RAINIER?
There are many roles that people have aboard the RAINIER, all of which collectively keep the ship running safely and efficiently. Steve Foye has been a member of the RAINIER crew for approximately 15 years, but has been with NOAA for over 25 years. He has worked on other NOAA ships, including the McARTHUR, the DAVIDSON, and the FAIRWEATHER. Steve’s original ship training came from his “on the job” training he received being in the Navy and from working on freighters. Prior to working with NOAA, Steve worked for Boeing in a guided missile factory.
Steve’s title on the RAINIER is currently Boatswain* Group Leader. He reports directly to the Chief Boatswain and has a number of deckhands onboard that report to him. The Boatswain is in charge of a ship’s anchors, lines, wires, the deck crew, the ship’s boats, the rigging of the ship, and overseeing the general maintenance of the ship. The specific tasks that Steve oversees on the RAINIER are imperative to the functioning of the ship. All of the ship’s wires need to be slushed, which means they are greased regularly to keep them from rusting. There are quite a lot of wires on the ship to hold things in place as well as to move equipment around using cranes. All of the mechanical equipment on the deck must also be lubricated and kept in working order, including the davit winches, cranes, and anchor windless, which controls the anchor. In addition to maintaining this equipment, the Boatswain and his crew are the ones who also operate the equipment. Steve mentioned that “chasing rust” was another important part of the ship’s upkeep. This is where rusty areas are prepped with a wire brush to clean them. Then they’re-primed and repainted. General maintenance of the ship is something else the Boatswain oversees, making sure that the passageways and general interior of the vessel are clean.
On the RAINIER there are 6 survey launch boats. It is Steve’s responsibility to make sure that the boats are launched properly. This involves some safety checks ahead of time as well as the use of davits, which are machines that lower the launches into the water. It is critical for the hydrography work that the RAINIER does to keep these boats and the equipment that maneuvers them on to and off of the ship in working order. When Steve isn’t busy training someone new to the ship or overseeing the use of a crane or davit, he enjoys taking photographs. He told me he has over 2000 pictures so far this year alone! He enjoys being away from home cruising to new places. He has maps that he marks to show the places he’s been to on all of his cruises. From talking with him, it seems that Steve enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with others. He’s also a very funny man.