Jill Stephens, June 28, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jill Stephens
Onboard NOAA Vessel Rainier 
June 15 – July 2, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Pavlov Islands, AK
Date: June 28, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Position: 55°08.501’N  161°41.073W
Visibility: 10+ nautical miles
Wind: 250° at 12 knots
Pressure: 1024.1 mbar
Temperature: Sea 8.3°C;  Dry bulb 10.0°C;  Wet bulb 7.8°C

The device that collects the information for the Moving Vessel Profiler is referred to as the “fish.”
The device that collects the information for the Moving Vessel Profiler is referred to as the “fish.”

Science and Technology Log 

The day began a bit overcast as Shawn Gendron, Manuel Cruz, Dennis Brooks and I set out in RA 4. Manuel is working on his HIC qualification, so he ended up running the equipment and the boat quite a bit today. The process involved in attaining the Hydrographer in Charge certification takes approximately one year to complete.  To become HIC qualified, you must complete the HIC workbook and demonstrate proficiency in all areas of hydrography covered by NOAA in addition to demonstrating boat handling skills. (I could probably get a few things checked off myself!) Manuel handled the first cast by himself, then allowed me to help with the second cast, and complete the third cast on my own.

The MVP can be controlled with buttons located on a handheld wand.  See it my hands?
The MVP can be controlled with buttons located on a handheld wand. See it my hands?

The data retrieved from the casts was good and so there was not a need for any recasts. We have been trying to perform a cast at the beginning, middle and end of the day to provide adequate information regarding depth, temperature, and salinity.  It is also necessary to take casts from various locations within the work area in order to accumulate necessary information to integrate with the raw data from the multi-beam sonar to depict the contour of the sea floor. We were supposed to use the MVP, Moving Vessel Profiler, today instead of the CTD.  When we attempted to start the equipment, an alarm sounded and would not shut down.  The computer also lost communication with the “fish.” (The fish is the data collection device that is placed in the water.) The MVP is similar to the CTD, except that it has a different top and is attached to a cable that extends beyond the stern of the boat.  The MVP collects the same information as a CTD, but instead of a snapshot at selected locations, it can provide continuous depth, conductivity, and temperature readings by automatically taking repeated casts.

After our return to the ship, the MVP system was reviewed by the Field Operations Officer. The operating instructions were reviewed and it was determined that some key steps were not represented correctly.  These omissions were corrected. The launches all have laptops that are being used to convert files from Hypack into Caris. Converting the files on board the launch allows hydrographers and survey technicians the opportunity to review the seafloor surfaces searching for areas of incomplete coverage.  Shawn converted some files and gave me the opportunity to practice cleaning away errant returns or “noise.”

The unit pictured above is one of the two desalination systems for the ship.
The unit pictured above is one of the two desalination systems for the ship.

Personal Log 

Tonight after supper, Mary Patterson, (Teacher at Sea from Texas), and I went on a tour of the engine room with one of the engineers.  I knew that the engines for this ship would be massive, but was unprepared for just how massive they are.  NOAA Ship Rainier was put into commission in 1968 and still has her original engines.  The engineers pride themselves on the excellent maintenance that has enabled the engines to continue to perform well.

All of the ship’s power and freshwater originates in the engine room.  The ship has two generators that can be used to provide electrical power to the entire ship. Electrical outlets, radar, sonar, computers, and lights are among the items that use the power supplied by the generators. Normally, only one of the generators operates at a time and sometimes when in port, the ship is able to connect to shore power and shut down both generators. 

A necessity aboard ship is a continuous supply of potable water.  The ship has two desalination systems located in the engine room.  Sea water is taken into the system under pressure and exposed to heat within the unit.  The evaporated water is collected in trays and sent on to be treated with purification elements.  The salt residue is then returned to the sea.  Each unit has the capacity to produce approximately 150 gallons of fresh water per hour.

Question of the Day 

How does the desalinization technology of 1968 compare to desalinization technology today?

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