Brett Hoyt, October 25, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 25, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  150º
Wind speed:  5 knots
Sea wave height: 1-2ft
Swell wave height: 4-6 ft
Sea level pressure: 1017.1 millibars
Sea temperature:  16.7ºC or ºF
Air temperature:  17.9ºC or ºF
Cloud type: Stratus

Reggie Glover – Engine Utility Man (“Oilier”) helping keep the ship running smooth. Thanks Reggie!

Reggie Glover – Engine Utility Man (“Oilier”) helping keep the ship running smooth. Thanks Reggie!

The Crew 

For the past 3 weeks we have been highlighting the scientists and their work.  The other unsung heroes of this cruise are the ship’s crew.  These tireless workers work 7 days a week and are on call 24 hours a day. They are up before dawn and go to bed well after sunset. They feed us three square meals a day (they are excellent chefs) and provide us even with the water we drink and bath with.  Without our crew the research does not happen. For this we thank you.

Being a crewmember on a research vessel such as the RONALD BROWN has many hardships. You can’t go to the movies (they show two every night—not always your choice but you can request a movie to be played) or head to the mall (they do have a ship’s store—by the way I’ve seen bigger closets), but it’s our mall, and for this Dave, we thank you for running it. You can’t go for a walk in the park or even stroll down a neighborhood street. Your work place is also your home and you can’t leave either.  But ………………for all these sacrifices how many of you can say you have really seen the world?  For most of us, our “world” may only be the country we live in or perhaps the neighborhood we played in as a child.  To you I ask, have you ever seen the sunset in Fiji or the glaciers in the Straits of Magellan?  Have you ever visited a land that has not seen any rainfall in over 150 years?  Have you ever gazed upon the heads of Easter Island or experienced 45ft waves in the Bearing Sea?  If not, then you have not seen the world.  It is because of this unique attraction for the world and all that is in it, that many people choose the life of a sailor.

Any one like big diesel engines?  Jim Reed inspects the heart of the ship. The RON BROWN has six of these huge diesel engines connected to very large electric generators that in turn feed enough electricity to power the two 3000 horsepower engines that turn the propellers.

Any one like big diesel engines? Jim Reed inspects the heart of the ship, which has six of these huge diesel engines connected to very large electric generators that feed enough electricity to power the two engines that turn the propellers.

Today we will visit with Reggie Glover on board the RONALD H. BROWN.  Reggie is a friendly, always there with a smile, genuinely kind man of 34 years of age.  He has been a seaman for the past 3 years and has served on numerous ships.  He got his start washing dishes for the Military Sealift Command.  He was a civilian who worked on ships that supplied U.S. Naval ships. In only 2 and a half years he has worked his way up to “wiper.” Upon leaving the Sealift Command and joining NOAA, he changed jobs to become an “Engine Utility Man.”  His past jobs have included truck driver, hotel employee, and fast food worker.  When I asked Reggie why he decided to go to sea he replied, “College isn’t for everyone” and his career at sea provided an excellent opportunity to achieve financial freedom. “Money is good, there is tons of overtime, you don’t have to pay rent, and meals are provided. Your paycheck is all yours to save or to spend.”

Reggie has not always had it “easy.” Just before going to sea he was temporarily homeless.  The sea provided a new career and a fresh start. When I asked Reggie what message he wanted to tell students he replied, “Come out to sea with a goal in mind, stick with it, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.  If your life isn’t going the way you want, perhaps a job at sea would be an alternative to jail, homelessness, or even college.”  Reggie goes on to say that joining NOAA’s workforce provides many opportunities to advance your skills and education.  NOAA has sent Reggie to Engine Utility School and Refrigeration School and he is planning on taking welding school this fall. He is currently working towards his 3AE (third assistant engineer).

One of the benefits he has enjoyed the most has been the free travel in seeing the world and meeting different people in it.  After visiting with Reggie I can sense he has his goals and will achieve them through his persistence and dedication to a job well done.

If you like to know more about a career at sea, check out the NOAA Fleet and Marine operations website, Automated commerce employment, and Vessel employment opportunities.

Please contact the Marine Operations Center – Atlantic at (757) 441-6206, or Marine Operations Center – Pacific at (206) 553-4548, if you have any questions.

The Teacher 

This is my final log and I would like to thank all those folks at NOAA who saw fit to send me half way around the world for the journey of a lifetime and a chance to participate in one of the most worthwhile projects any teacher could hope to imagine.  I would also like to thank Dr. Bob Weller and all the crew from Woods Hole who took time to answer my questions and make me feel like one of the team.  (Love to scrape those barnacles!) I would like to thank the captain and his crew for keeping us safe and making me feel very much at home 5,000miles from home.  And, I would like to personally thank Lt. (JG) Jackie Almeida for her input and edits on my Teacher at Sea logs and for her help in making my job easier.  If you are a teacher and would like the experience of a lifetime, go to the Teacher at Sea website and apply today.

Karolyn Braun, October 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 24, 2006

A pilot whale breeches the surface of the water.

A pilot whale breaches the surface of the water.

Plan of the Day 

Well it was a long early morning. I was awoken at 2 a.m. to prepare for the 300 CTD profile. By the time I was finished and all was said and done, it was time for the next one. We sailed by the TAO buoy and all looked well so we went ahead and conducted the CTD and deployed the AOML. My last CTD for the day was the 1230 profile at 2.5N/170W.  Eric from MBARI will be doing the evening one.  I walked on the treadmill for an hour then made a nice salad for lunch.  I honestly don’t eat this much on my own.  It’s easy to eat when every meal is made for you.  One can easily gain weight out here. I did some knot tying and rested a bit but did not want to nap, as I would not sleep tonight.  We saw another pod of Pilot whales off the port bow playing in the water. Snapped a few good photos.

Lets talk about whales shall we?  Whales are mammals, and there are five distinct groups of marine mammals: Pinnepeds, which include seals, sea lions, fur seals and walruses;  Sea Otters; Cetaceans containing whales, dolphins and porpoises; Sirenians which consist of dugongs and manatees; and Polar Bears.  So what does it mean to be a marine mammal?  Well like all mammals, they are warm-blooded, they have at least a few hairs on their bodies, and they nourish their young with milk.  These mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that was enacted in 1979, which made it illegal to “take” any marine mammal.  The term “take” includes harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill, or attempt to do the same.  “Harass” denotes the act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance that has potential to disturb marine mammals.  In1994 it was amended to strengthen the definition of harass and included feeding.

Pilot whales have been hunted for many centuries, particularly by Japanese whalers.  In the mid-1980s the annual Japanese kill was about 2,300 animals.  This had decreased to about 400 per year by the 1990s. Killing by harpoon is still relatively common in the Lesser Antilles, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Hundreds or perhaps thousands are killed each year in longline and gillnets.  However, due to poor record-keeping it is not known how many kills are made each year, and what the effect this has on the local population. Female pilot whales mature at 6 years of age and a length of about 3.5 m.  Males mature much later when 12 years old and 5 m in length.  Mature adult males, which are generally larger than females, can weigh as much as 3 tons.  At birth, calves weigh slightly over 200 lbs. They are born after a pregnancy of 16 months, and are weaned at around 20 months of age.

Pilot whales have strong social cohesiveness; it is rare to see a single individual.  Even when being driven ashore by whalers, they would stay together as a group.  Groups typically contain animals of both sexes and many different ages.  The males may compete for breeding privileges, forming a hierarchy that excludes smaller males.  Large assemblages may also be composed of smaller, close-knit groups, which are stable over time.  Pilot whales are some of the noisiest whales in the ocean. Their group structure requires social communication, and they orient to prey objects by echolocation.  Vocalizations include a wide variety of whistles and clicks.

Brett Hoyt, October 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 24, 2006

Data from Bridge 

Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  140º
Wind speed:  4 knots
Sea wave height: 0-1ft
Swell wave height: 6-8 ft
Sea level pressure:  1018.5 millibars
Sea temperature:  18.1ºC or 64 ºF
Air temperature:  18.7ºC or 65 ºF
Cloud type: stratus

Deployment of the new tsunami buoy began at 6am on October 23.  The scientists deployed the buoy first and then plan to deploy the Bottom Pressure Recorder (BPR).  The reason for this is that the BPR must be located close enough to the buoy for the acoustic communication from the BPR to reach the surface buoy.  As there are only a few instruments from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the buoy, this deployment process only took a few hours instead of most of the day.  They plan on letting the buoy settle for many hours before they deploy the BPR.  One of the challenges for the tsunami buoy is that unlike the Stratus 7 buoy which had a “watch circle” (the distance the buoy could wander) of over 3 miles, the tsunami buoy has a watch circle of no more than 1,500 meters.  This difference is that you don’t want the buoy wandering out of range of the Bottom Pressure Recorder transmitter.  To achieve this, the scientists must make the mooring line exactly the right length.  The day before they deployed the buoy the scientists measured the contours of the ocean floor and knew precisely how deep the water was. At the last minute, the scientists from the Chilean Navy cut and spliced a piece of mooring line to exactly the right length.  (See photo)

The Scientists 

Here a scientist from the Chilean Navy is seen splicing in an eye into the line after it was cut to length.  This process ensures that the buoy stays in the right location and does not wander too far.

Here a scientist from the Chilean Navy is seen splicing in an eye into the line after it was cut to length. This process ensures that the buoy stays in the right location and does not wander too far.

The Machine 

The Chilean Government's tsunami buoy on station in the South Pacific.  This is only one half of the warning equation.

The Chilean Government’s tsunami buoy in the South Pacific. This is only half of the warning equation.

The Bottom Pressure Recorder (BPR) with its anchor attached.

The Bottom Pressure Recorder (BPR) with its anchor attached.

The Experiment 

There was no experiment.

Classroom Activities 

There is no classroom activity, as creating your own tsunami in the classroom would be way too messy.

Karolyn Braun, October 23, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 23, 2006

The drifter buoy sets sail for its long journey on the sea.

The drifter buoy sets sail for its long journey on the sea.

Plan of the Day 

Very busy day. Was up bright and early to conduct the 600 CTD profile.  Had some breakfast and did some cleaning around the stateroom.  Around 9 a.m.  I updated my KA’IMIMOANA intranet webpage. I am glad I learned how to use the Frontpage program as it may come in handy. I went and sat in the ‘pool’ for a bit before lunch, but overall had a lazy morning.

After a light lunch we conducted a 4000m CTD cast, which took about 4 hours then deployed the AOML drifter buoy, the third of three that ASCC has adopted. The modern drifter is a high-tech version of the “message in a bottle”.  It consists of a surface buoy and a subsurface drogue (sea anchor), attached by a long, thin tether.  The buoy measures temperature and other properties, and has a transmitter to send the data to passing satellites.  The drogue dominates the total area of the instrument and is centered at a depth of 15 meters beneath the sea surface.  The drifter sensors measure data such as sea surface temperature, average the data over a window (typically 90 seconds), and transmit the sensor data at 401.65 MHz.  Each drifter transmitter is assigned a Platform Terminal Transmitter (PTT) code, often referred to as the drifter ID. These Bouys are deployed by NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory or AOML.

While Tonya completed the CTD cast, I got to help the ship’s deck crew with a little Bosun Locker Clean-up. There was a pod of about 100 or so Pilot whales that crossed our path. Very cool to see! I got in a workout, then at 6 p.m. it was time to do another CTD profile.

Karolyn Braun, October 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 22, 2006

The crew of the KA’IMIMOANA conduct an abandon-ship drill.

The crew conduct an abandon-ship drill.

Science and Technology Log 

We are still a little behind schedule this morning.  We’re preparing the next TAO buoy for deployment later on in the week, and I’m getting ready for my busy schedule of CTD profiles. After our 930 CTD was up and secure on deck, we had an abandon-ship drill.  Those are always fun. Mike and Joe, the ET guys instructed us on the use of the emergency VHF radio, the EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons the PEPIRB, Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons and the SARTS, Search and Rescue Transponder System.  Our drill was over in time to enjoy a nice lunch, after which we were back outside getting ready to clean one of the lockers when we had a scenario fire drill.  The scenario was that a fire broke out in the paint locker.  We all had to report to muster to be accounted for.  Once we did that, I assisted by bringing out the hose to the grated deck and made sure certain vents were closed.  The drill was definitely adrenaline pumping, but I am glad we haven’t had a real one onboard.

After the drill was said and done, I had to conduct a CTD profile.  It was supposed to be short and sweet but turned out to be a little longer than expected due to something wrong with the winch speed and another fuse blowing.  I don’t think the computer likes me.   The CTD was finally finished and we steamed off towards the next buoy to conduct a dive operation to repair some fittings on the TAO buoy.  I got in a work out and a nap before my late CTD at 2300.  What a day.

Brett Hoyt, October 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Brett Hoyt
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
October 8 – 28, 2006

Mission: Recovery and maintenance of buoy moorings
Geographical Area: Southeast Pacific, off the coast of Chile
Date: October 22, 2006

Jeff Lord using an acoustic transmitter to talk to the acoustic release.  This machine also tells the scientists the range to the release that helps them in finding it.

Jeff Lord using an acoustic transmitter to talk to the acoustic release. This machine also tells the scientists the range to the release that helps them in finding it.

Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  12nm (nautical miles)
Wind direction:  130º
Wind speed:  19 knots
Sea wave height: 4-6ft
Swell wave height: 5-7 ft
Sea level pressure:  1019.7 millibars
Sea temperature:  17.3ºC or 63ºF
Air temperature:  18.0ºC or 64ºF
Cloud type: cumulus, stratocumulus, and stratus

Note: 

All day on the 21st was spent traveling to the Chilean tsunami buoy approximately 300 miles off the coast of Chile.  During this time, the Woods Hole group was busy retrieving data from their instruments from Stratus 6.  Many of the instruments collect data all year long and store it on flash memory cards.  When recovered one year later, this data is then downloaded onto computers for later analysis. We arrived late in the day on October 22 at the tsunami site and immediately started the process of recovering the old buoy. As you can see, scientists work day and night to get the job done. I really have never seen a group of harder working people.

Jorge Araya and Alvaro Vera, members of the Chilean Navy, looking for the yellow glass balls which were released over an hour ago and take that long to reach the surface.  Work vests were required but not hard hats for this part of the operation.  Both have over 12 years with the Chilean Navy.

Jorge Araya and Alvaro Vera, members of the Chilean Navy, looking for the yellow glass balls which were released over an hour ago and take that long to reach the surface. Work vests were required but not hard hats for this part of the operation. Both have over 12 years with the Chilean Navy.

The Machine

The glass balls are attached to the Bottom Pressure Recorder, or BPR, and float to the surface leaving the anchor on the bottom of the ocean.

Jorge Gaete, a civilian contractor for the Chilean Navy for the past 2 years, helps with the deployment of the tsunami buoy.

Jorge Gaete, a civilian contractor for the Chilean Navy for the past 2 years, helps with the deployment of the tsunami buoy.

Capturing the yellow flotation balls that have brought the BPR to the surface for recovery.

Capturing the yellow flotation balls that have brought the BPR to the surface for recovery.

The second part of the tsunami warning system is the recovery of the buoy.  This buoy receives the signal from the BPR and quickly transmits the warning via satellite to the Chilean authorities who in turn warn the public.  This recovery was done at night.  Without the vast array of sensors found on the Stratus 7 buoy, this recovery progressed quickly and was completed within 30 minutes.

Hooking lines to the tsunami buoy for a quick recovery.

Hooking lines to the tsunami buoy for a quick recovery.

The Experiment

There is no experiment today; however, I will try to explain how the system works. When a tsunami is triggered by an underwater earthquake the BPR detects the increase in pressure on the bottom of the ocean due to the increase in the height of the water column above the sensor. When I asked Alvaro how this worked when sea swell was 6-7 ft at times and waves could reach a height of 45ft he explained that the pressure is sharp and abrupt. This is indicated by a very short wave (period) of energy passing through the open ocean. In open ocean the height of a huge tsunami wave is so short a ship would hardly know one has passed by.  It is only when this wave heads into shallow water that the wave becomes deadly.

The BPR immediately after recovery, without its anchor that remains on the bottom of the ocean.

The BPR immediately after recovery, without its anchor that remains on the bottom of the ocean.

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Classroom Activities

Please share with your students the DART tsunami warning system.

My next log will cover the deployment of a new warning system.

Karolyn Braun, October 21, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Karolyn Braun
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
October 4 – 28, 2006

Mission: TAO Buoy Array Maintenance
Geographical Area: Hawaii
Date: October 21, 2006

braun_log15Plan of the Day 

The alarm went off at 2 a.m. Am I crazy or what?  I pulled myself out of bed to go view the Orionid meteor shower.  What is a meteor you may ask? Well a “meteor shower,” also known as a “meteor storm,” is a celestial event where a large number of meteors are seen within a very short period of time.  These meteors are small fragments of cosmic debris entering Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds, leaving streaks of light that very quickly disappear. Most of the small fragments of cosmic debris are smaller than a grain of sand, so almost all fragments are burned up and never hit the earth’s surface.  Fragments which do contact earth’s surface are called meteorites.  These events are one of the few astronomical phenomena where everyday people, equipped with only their eyes, can experience the beauty of astronomy at its best.  There are approximately ten mornings each year when the meteor activity is exceptional.  What about the other 355 nights per year?  Well, these are the nights when the activity is so sparse one can barely stay awake. YAWN! The Orionid meteor shower is active throughout October and the first week of November.  This shower is produced by the inbound particles of the famous Halley’s Comet, which last passed through the inner solar system in 1986.  The Earth passes closest to the comet’s orbit on October 21.  At this time the Earth actually only skims the outer fringes of the debris field produced by Halley’s Comet. The Orionids can still produce a very entertaining display of celestial fireworks, especially when viewed from rural locations.  When seen near maximum activity, an observer can count 15 to 25 Orionid meteors per hour.  I was lucky to see 30 or more on my hour observation.  Definitely worth losing sleep over!

The morning came and went and around 1330 as I assisted the Electronic Technicians with the TAS intranet web page.  I learned how to use FrontPage too so it was worth the time and effort.  I also helped spool some of the line for the TAO buoy retrieval and fed the line to deploy it. It was a long day but the work got done.  Today’s Buoy retrieval was last minute so it will make the ship behind schedule.  But only time will tell.