The Kilo Moana left port on July 27, 2010. It is based out of the University of Hawaii. We will be mooring a 4,000 pound buoy which will measure water temperatures, conductivity, and current flow as well as taking other important oceanic measurements. It will take about five hours to moor it properly. Mooring means to anchor it to a particular place or location. We are heading north of Oahu about 110 kilometers, which is about 68 miles. So far, the ship has sailed smoothy. It is a catamaran-style of ship, which keeps it stable in all types of surf conditions.
From speaking to the scientists on the mission, I have learned that is takes months, if not years, to build and implement these enormous buoys. Needless to say, it is much different from setting a “No Swimming” buoy.
This buoy will take measurements which will be used to calibrate models generated by other scientists. Likewise, we will be recovering an old mooring, cleaning it, and returning it to port. The entire mission will last eight days.
Today, Wednesday, we actually deployed the buoy and the instruments that are suspended below it. To help you understand how it is working, imagine that you have a beach ball with a rope attached to it. A series a knots have been tied into the rope. The beach ball is then released into a pool of water and the rope dangles below the part of the beach ball that is floating on the surface of the water. Each knot represents a different scientific instrument; each instrument collects real-time data.
How I helped was that I held the line which helped guide the chains and instruments into the water. I was reponsible for keeping the chains and instruments away from one of the ship’s propellars. It was a bit strenuous and unsettling, for if the instruments and chain drift into the propellar, then the mission is destroyed. I am happy to report that this did not happen.
After the instruments were guided into the water, a series of lines were attached and lowered as well. This process took several hours to complete, and we had to help feed the line out into the ocean. After the line was lowered, a series of glass balls were attached and slowly released following the lines. Once these balls were released, they stayed afloat. However, a 9,300 pound anchor was then attached and released into the ocean, causing the balls and line to descend into the ocean. Finally, the anchor descended about 4,700 meters (1,651 feet) and the buoy was finally moored to the seafloor.