Laura Rodriguez, May 27th, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Laura Rodriguez
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
May 24 – June 2, 2012

Mission: Fisheries Surveys
Geographical Area: Eastern Bering Sea
Date: May 27, 2010

Why is Ocean Science Important?

The Bridge of the Oscar Dyson

Me on the bridge
Me on the bridge

I’m starting to get into a routine on board the ship now. I wake up in time for breakfast at 7 AM. Then I read through your blog entries and catch up on emails. I head up to the bridge before my watch to check out the weather log and talk to the officer on watch. I get to the chemistry lab at 10:00 to start my watch. Lunch is at 11:00, so I may get one station in before lunch. Then we work straight until dinner at 5:00. The bridge tries to time the stations so we have at least 30 minutes to eat. On Monday, we had to eat in shifts because we came on the station right at 5:00. After dinner, we work until 10:00, then Ihit my bunk and its lights out.

Deck officers on the bridge
Deck officers on the bridge

The bridge of the Oscar Dyson is an amazing place. The deck officers rotate watches on the bridge. They are responsible for the safe piloting of the ship. All of the ship’s sensors and instruments can be accessed from the bridge. It is called an integrated bridge system. There are actually 4 bridge stations in the one large room. There is the main bridge consol as well as two wing bridges and an aft control station so that the officer on watch can control the ship from anywhere on the bridge. There is also an autopilot, although he always looks scared to death and about to scream. (see picture)

Auto Pilot
Auto Pilot

Some of the instruments include 2 radar screens, an electronic navigational chart as well as the traditional paper charts. There is an echo sounder to determine depth. The ship also has 2 GPS receivers to determine latitude and longitude and 2 gyro compasses to determine direction.

Radar on the bridge
Radar on the bridge
Pilot's view from the bridge
Pilot’s view from the bridge

The ship is also equipped with de-icers in the windows of the bridge. These heat the glass and keep them ice free.

De-icers on the window
De-icers on the window

Answers to your questions:

Jesse – The CO and the XO inspect the ship to make sure that it is stable. The CO must fill out a stability report before we leave dock. It details where the fuel and cargo are  located on board to make sure that the ship is balanced. The XO does a visual inspection of the ship before we leave to make sure that everything is secure.

Zach – The ship does a man overboard drill quarterly, that means once every three months. The last one was in March, so the next one is due in June. To do the drill, they throw a buoy overboard and then announce that it is a man over board drill. Everyone goes to their stations and the ship comes about and tries to get close enough to send a rescue swimmer to the buoy. If the ship cannot get close enough, they send the FRB (Fast Rescue Boat)

Ashley – Icebergs are not something that this ship would typically encounter. If there were an iceberg, it would show up on radar. The ship would then keep en extra lookout for it and also would give it a wide berth. What the ship typically encounters is flat or pack ice. This also shows up on radar so the ship knows when it’s coming.

Kellie – The ship ran aground in the Inside Passage in 2007.  The Inside Passage is in southeast Alaska down by Juneau. The propeller was damaged and had to be rebuilt.

Hannah M – To find crew for the ship, they use a pool of wage mariners. This is a listing of people who are qualified for the different jobs. Each type of job has different requirements and the people who would like to do that job need to have certain endorsements or qualifications to perform it. The ship has a permanent crew, but they hire people through what’s known as an augmentation pool to fill any temporary jobs. To apply for a job with NOAA is a lengthy process. It can take up to 6 months before a person is hired. They have to fill out an application, go through the interview process, get background checks, including a dental check, before they are eligible to be hired. The officers are part of the NOAA corps which has a different selection process.  Applicants for the NOAA corps must have a bachelor’s degree in a major course of study that relates to NOAA’s scientific or technological activities. They then apply to be a candidate for the NOAA corps. The candidates are selected for an intensive 4-5 month initial training program. They then have a 12-15 month obligation to serve on a NOAA ship. To learn more about the NOAA corps visit.

Kyle – The Oscar Dyson will make 11 research cruises this year. Since it was launched in 2005, that’s somewhere around  50 cruises so far.

Your questions to answer:

One of the most important jobs on a ship is to navigate the ship safely from one point to another. We now have very sophisticated technology to help us navigate, but people have been navigating ships for thousands of years. Research the history of navigation. Choose one civilization and describe how they navigated on the ocean.

As always, answer in complete sentences  and elaborate. Make sure you include the URL of the website where you found the information. Also, if you have any other questions for me please include.

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