Christine Hedge, August 19, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Christine Hedge
Onboard USCGC Healy
August 7 – September 16, 2009 

Mission: U.S.-Canada 2009 Arctic Seafloor Continental Shelf Survey
Location: Chukchi Sea, north of the arctic circle
Date: August 19, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge   

Brittle star
Brittle star

LAT: 810 23’N
LONG: 1560 31’W
Air Temp: 28.27 0F

Science and Technology Log 

My fellow teacher at sea, Jon Pazol, and I wonder, “What kind of brittle star is this?”  We think it is a Gorgonocephalus cf arcticus.
My fellow teacher at sea, Jon Pazol, and I wonder, “What kind of brittle star is this?” We think it is a Gorgonocephalus cf arcticus.

There isn’t much biology to be done on this cruise.  Our mapping mission is the main focus.  But, living things find a way of working their way into the picture.  We have a marine mammal and a community observer on board looking for whales, seals, polar bears, sea birds and other Arctic animals. Yesterday, a small Arctic Cod found its way into the seawater pipe in the science lab. And a few days ago, when the HARP instrument was pulled up, there was a brittle star attached to it. Jon Pazol (the ARMADA Teacher at Sea) and I are both biology types and we got excited about the opportunity to identify this creature from the Arctic Ocean.

Personal log 

Yoann, a student from France, enjoys his first corndog
Yoann, a student from France, enjoys his first corndog

I did not grow up in Indiana and have avoided eating a corndog until now.  Yoann Ladroit (from France) and I (from Connecticut) had our very first corndogs for lunch yesterday. We have enjoyed many different types of food on the Healy. Imagine stocking a ship with enough food for 120-130 people for months in the Arctic. When the Healy left Seattle they had a food inventory valued at $300,000. Ideally, this ship leaves port with enough food for a year. This is more than most Coast Guard cutters carry – but the Arctic is a unique place.  In other oceans, cutters can pull in to port and purchase fresh supplies. In the Arctic there are few ports and where there are ports – the food is VERY expensive. The Healy needs to be prepared to feed the crew, just in case they get beset (stuck in ice). So, they have staple foods ready for an emergency situation.

A forklift carries food supplies to the Healy
A forklift carries food supplies to the Healy

In Barrow, the Healy picked up many forklifts full of fresh produce and eggs. This will be the last fresh produce we get until September 16th when we return to shore. The Healy is one of the newest ships in the Coast Guard and has spacious facilities in the galley (kitchen) and the mess decks (dining room).  There are huge refrigerators, storage rooms and freezers for food. The gleaming stainless steel galley has computerized ovens with probes that sense when the food has reached the correct temperature and a huge and speedy dishwasher. As a newcomer to the ship we were warned about the powerful microwave oven, which heats anything in 10 seconds and garbage disposal (affectionately called the Red Goat) which grinds up all food waste instantly.

This area, called the mess, is where we eat our meals.
This area, called the mess, is where we eat our meals.

We eat in the mess decks.  Our mess decks are twice the size of those on other Coast Guard cutters.  Meals are served 4 times each day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at the regular times.  Since people work 24/7, a fourth meal called Mid-rats (midnight rations) is served each night at 11pm.   One of the interesting features in the mess decks is the operating room set up over one of the tables. Although the Healy has a state of the art sick bay, what if the sick bay was unusable because of a fire or some other crisis? It seems that in a mass casualty situation, the mess decks doubles as a medical space, which would be used to tend to wounded personnel.

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