Richard Chewning, June 23rd, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Chewning
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 4 – 24, 2010

NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
Mission: Pollock Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Alaska (Kodiak) to eastern Bering Sea (Dutch Harbor)
Date: June 23rd, 2010

Weather Data from the Bridge

Position: Bering Sea, east of St. George Island
Time: 0450
Latitude: N 56 38.000
Longitude: W 168 28.030
Cloud Cover: overcast with patchy fog
Wind: 14.0 knots from the east
Temperature: 5.8 C
Barometric Pressure: 1006.6 mbar

Science and Technology Log

Combining science, technology, and leadership, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps provides skilled leaders for NOAA’s diverse programs. Numbering around 300 individuals, this group of dedicated professionals has a wide range of duties and responsibilities including operating NOAA’s ship and aircraft, managing research projects around the world, conducting diving operations, and manning staff positions on the shore. Officers are rotated every 2-3 years between ship-based and land-based positions. Before joining the Dyson as the Executive Officer for instance, Lieutenant Jeffrey Shoup worked with a satellite-based international search and rescue system as his NOAA shore assignment.

NOAA Corps emblem

All of these officers have completed rigorous training and have degrees in various fields of study relating to NOAA science such as physical oceanography, marine biology, chemistry, fisheries science, engineering, and meteorology. For example, the Dyson’s Commanding Officer, CDR Mike Hoshlyk, studied biology and geology at the University of Rochester.

Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Corps is one of the nation’s seven uniformed services of the United States. You are undoubtedly familiar with the other six: U.S. Public Health Service, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marines. During times of war or national emergency, NOAA Corps officers can assume duties with the Armed Forces. NOAA Corps officers have leadership and command positions on NOAA’s various vessels, aircraft, and instillations and manage programs and research efforts.

Personal Log

I wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the NOAA Corps officers, crew, and scientists of the NOAA ship Oscar Dyson for their support of my Teacher at Sea experience. I greatly appreciate their time and efforts making my stay comfortable and informative. I recognize that they not only allowed me to observe and learn about their workplace, but they also welcomed me into their home.

Ensign Russell Pate performing a safety demonstration

I have been continuously impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the Dyson’s NOAA Corps officers. Ensuring a safe and successful cruise for all onboard, I am grateful for the many efforts of CO Mike Hoshlyk, XO Jeff Shoup, Field Operations/Acting XO Officer Sarah Duncan, Navigation Officer Nathan Witherly, Safety Officer Russell Pate, and Medical Officer Amber Payne. I credit the entire engineering and electronics departments for their hard work ensuring that the Dyson remained in fine working order throughout the cruise. Jerry, Fred, Jim, Bob, Walter, Dave, Terry, and Steve comprised the Dyson’s engineering and electronics departments. The deck crew deserves recognition for always being ready to fish anytime day or night and for keeping the Dyson in ship shape over the last three weeks. The deck crew included Willie, Dennis, Joel, Glen, Mike, and Buddy. Special thanks to the scientists for sharing their passion for maritime research and for welcoming me as a part of their team. Paul, Patrick, Darin, Rick, Misha, Bill, Liz, Patti, Yin, Paula, and Ernesto each demonstrated personal dedication to better understanding our world’s seas and oceans. Gathering data and assisting the deck crew during the Dyson’s many deployments, Kathy and Jonathan deserve recognition for their many efforts as members of the survey department. Finally, I wish to express a word of thanks to the Dyson’s two stewards, Rick and Floyd, for keeping the crew well fed.

LTjg Nathan Witherly working on a chart

I wish to say a final word of thanks to the NOAA Teacher At Sea staff whose many efforts on my behalf made this experience possible. NOAA’s TAS program director is Jennifer Hammond. Elizabeth McMahon is the deputy director, and Elizabeth Bullock is the program support specialist. Thank you for bringing this amazing experience to life for so many teachers and students around the country.

Richard holding a Chinook salmon

Kodiak and Dutch Harbor As my TAS experience draws to a close, I reflect on where our cruise began and will conclude. Kodiak and Dutch Harbor are regular stops for the Oscar Dyson as she conducts research in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Each community has a unique history and serves as a vital link to the outside world for the crew of Dyson.

St Paul Harbor, Kodiak, Alaska
Gray whale skeleton on display at Kodiak National Wildlife Refudge Visitor Center

Kodiak is the main city on Kodiak Island and is the home port of the Oscar Dyson. Carved by retreating glaciers during the last ice age, Kodiak’s most famous resident is the massive Kodiak brown bear. The Alutiiq called this area home for thousands of years before the Russian fur traders arrived in the early 1700s. Kodiak was the capital of Russian Alaska before becoming a US territory in 1867. In 1964, Kodiak suffered a devastating tsunami from the powerful 9.2 magnitude Good Friday Earthquake. Today Kodiak is a quaint commercial fishing community surrounded by beautiful untamed wilderness.

Priest Rock marking the entrance to Dutch Harbor
Church of The Holy Ascension, Dutch Harbor

Located on the on the island of Amaknak in the Aleutian Islands, Dutch Harbor is an industrial fishing outpost on the outskirts of the city of Unalaska. Dutch Harbor is a major industrial seaport serving fishing vessels of every description. Dutch Harbor is steeped in history. Hunting, fishing, and gathering for many generations, the Aleuts lived here long before Russian fur traders arrived in the mid 1700s. The Church of the Holy Ascension was built Dutch Harbor in 1825 and is the oldest Russian Orthodox church in the United States. Japanese and American military forces fought over the Aleutian Islands during the early months of the United States entry into World War II. Many concrete pill boxes and gun emplacements can still be seen along the surrounding hillsides. Dutch Harbor is defined by fishing and at one time was the largest fishing port in the US. Most people today recognize Dutch Harbor as the home of the crab fishermen portrayed in the Discovery Channel’s popular show, The Deadliest Catch.

Sunset in the Bering Sea

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