Mission: Shark Longline Survey
Geographical Area: Southern Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico
Date: August 12, 2011
Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude: 29 03.78 N
Longitude: 080 32.183 W
Wind Speed: 9.76 kts
Surface Water Temperature: 29.20 C
Air Temperature: 29.88 C
Relative Humidity: 84%
Barometric Pressure: 1012.55 mb
Science and Technology Log
NOAA Ship Oregon II is like a city. This 175’ research vessel has the capability of making potable water, processing sewage, and making its own power. Yesterday I followed around the engineers as they prepared for us to go to sea so all these things would run smoothly.
Because there are so many fluids on board (such as lubricating oil, hydraulic oil, waste oil, and diesel), it is very important to know their levels in order to be able to balance the ship. The Captain runs stability tests before going to sea. The engineers measure these fluids. How do they do it? They take tank soundings. If the engineer is measuring how much diesel is in the tanks, it is called innage. If the air space in the tank is measured, it is ullage.
The lid to the tank is taken off first. Next a stainless steel measuring tape with a plumbob (weight) is lowered down into the tank. (Stainless steel and brass are used to prevent static electricity.) When the plumbob hits the buckler plate at the bottom, the tape is reeled in to see the level of the diesel. On this ship the readings are done in feet and inches. Some ships use the metric system. Either way, it is crucial that the measurements are read accurately. After the readings are taken, they put the numbers into a sounding table to calculate how many
After soundings are taken for diesel, hydraulic fuel, and lubricating oil, a sounding is done for waste/dirty oil. All ships have to keep an oil record book to account for proper disposal of the dirty oil. In the event there is an oil slick on the ocean, the record book will show where all the oil for the ship went. NOAA is very cautious with the oil. One drop of oil can contaminate 100,000 gallons of water!
Another task to perform before going to sea is cleaning the strainers. Salt water is used to cool the engines; however debris comes in, too. The strainers stop the debris. When they get full the engines will overheat if they aren’t cleaned. According to the engineers, the strainers are much fuller in Pascagoula than in Charleston.
NOAA Ship Oregon II also makes potable (safe to drink) water. This is done by the reverse osmosis machine. Essentially the water is squeezed through membranes. The government allows up to 700 parts per million (ppm) of salt, but on this ship it is kept to 150 ppm. Water is made 22 miles or more from the coast. This is due to the fact that there are more pollutants closer to shore. The ship can carry 7,000 gallons of potable water.
Charting is one of the many other things that must be done before sailing. This is done by the Junior Officer, Brian. He is responsible for laying down the track lines (the course the boat will take). At any given time, he has 3 days tracked. This is done electronically then it is logged on the paper chart. On the map, blue is shallow water and white is deeper water. For Charleston Port, blue is 18 feet and below and white is 18 feet or above. This differs from port to port.
NOAA Ship Oregon II has an entire crew of experts. Thanks to Brian, Electronics Technician, for fixing my laptop which had a virus. Had it been plugged into the network, it could’ve shut down the entire NOAA fleet! All the ships rely on the internet for weather, latitude and longitude, etc. Thank you, Brian for fixing the problem!
You may have noticed from the Ship Tracker that we left from Charleston rather than Mayport. This was a precaution taken because of Tropical Storm Emily. When I arrived at Papa Pier in Charleston, I was greeted by Commanding Officer, Master Dave Nelson. He told me to just call him “Dave.” He is extremely down-to-earth and eager to share what he knows with me. It is obvious he has earned the respect of the entire crew.
Over the course of the evening, I got to meet many of the crew members. They each were very helpful in getting me ready to sail. One of the fishermen, Cliff, greeted me and explained longline fishing. Right now, however, we are transiting, or steaming, down the coast for 3 days. They won’t start fishing until we round the Florida peninsula on Sunday. Suffice it to say, I’m having the time of my life! This crew is awesome!
I had two added bonuses for my trip to sea. My parents dropped me off at the airport. They said it reminded them of me going to my first day of kindergarten with my shorts, T-shirt, and backpack! I also got to see my sister and her kids on a layover in Dallas. My nieces made a card for me which I have in my locker. In it my niece Ellie asked, “What are you going to grow up to be?” I have to say, the very fact that she doesn’t think I’m grown up makes me smile. Robert Ballard said it best, “I am a lifelong learner . . . a kid who has never grown up.” So Ellie, in answer to your question, I want to be a kid when I grow up. I don’t ever want to stop asking questions and asking “why?” It’s what kids do best.
Photo Gallery from NOAA Ship Oregon II