Mission: Shark Longline Survey
Geographical Area: Southern Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico
Date: August 13, 2011
Weather Data from the Bridge
Latitude: 26.02 N
Longitude: 80.02 W
Wind Speed: 9.18 kts
Surface Water Temperature: 29.20 C
Air Temperature: 30.30 C
Relative Humidity: 70.00%
Science and Technology Log
The crew of NOAA Ship Oregon II are adamant about safety. Because of this, drills are performed in order to be prepared. First we did a fire drill. The alarm sounds then the Captain makes an announcement as to where the fire is located. I am in the scientist party, thus we went to the dry lab. In the event of a real fire, the fire box on the bridge would tell the Captain what area of the ship was in danger. Two of the crew members, Tim, Lead Fisherman, and Walter, Chief Boatswain, don their fire suits and go to the area to contain the fire.
Next we did a “man overboard” drill. When the alarm is sounded, everyone on board grabs their survival suit and life vest and heads to the bow. They must be put on in one minute or less.
The diving crew also did a proficiency dive and hull inspection. The proficiency dive is done in order to stay familiar with their gear in the event they need to go beneath the ship to fix something. For example, the longline could get entangled in the screw/propeller. During the hull inspection the diving team checks the intakes for growth of algae, etc.
The Captain announces that divers will be in the water, then the RHIB (Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat) is lowered. After they are in place, the divers can now get started. After the dive, the gear is brought back on board with a crane.
There are multiple safety features on the bridge as well. AIS (Automated Identification System) is a tool to help identify other ships. Any ship that is 300 gross tons or more must register their ship. NOAA Ship Oregon II is 729 gross tons. Another important tool is the radar. The radars are $80,000/each. This ship has two. Commanding Officer, Master Dave Nelson, said he tells his crew, “This box is our world.” Whenever it is dark or there is severe weather this is their only “eyes” to tell them what is in their path.Another device used on the bridge is the fathometer. (Captain calls it the “fatho.”) This tells the depth of the water.
Captain Dave Nelson calls me “Teach” and I call him “Cap.” I got to spend time this morning for a tour of the bridge with him. It was fascinating! In addition to all I learned above, he showed me the wheel and the engine controls which houses the pitch indicator (a.k.a. gas pedal).
Cap also told me the ship follows MARPOL Regulations. For example, food scraps can be dumped in the ocean as long as it’s 12 miles from the shore.
We have been steaming 25 miles out but moved within 3 miles of shore to get out of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream flows from south to north. We’re headed south. Today it is moving at 3.5 knots. (It averages 4 knots.) Water is very powerful. Going into a current with 1 knot is the same as going into a 20 knot wind. Now that you know this, try to solve the question below.
In reference to the question on my last blog “How many gallons of diesel does NOAA Ship Oregon II hold?” The correct answer is 70,000 gallons! According to Sean, Chief Engineer, we will get to Mississippi with about 30,000 gallons remaining.
On another note, It was so neat to get to be close enough to the shore line to see Fort Lauderdale and Miami!
Captain’s Corner: Stories from NOAA Ship Oregon II
If only NOAA Ship Oregon II could talk . . . she would have some stories to tell of her journey in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic. We will let Commanding Officer (CO), Master Dave Nelson, tell the stories. Here is one he shared with me today.
It was about six years ago and they were headed north to do a survey on the east coast. The only individuals on board were those in the crew; 19 in all. They were in the Gulf Stream and it was rough. The seas had 15 foot waves. Because it was so rough, NOAA Ship Oregon II was being run slower than normal. At that time, Cap was the XO and he was at the bridge steering. A call came through from the Chief Engineer alerting the Captain to get to the engine room immediately. When he arrived he found the Chief Engineer standing in water that was now up to his belly button. He explained that a saltwater intake pipe, which funnels salt water in to cool the engines, had burst. Because the area was flooded, he still could not find the valve to shut it off. He continued searching, determined to find it. His diligence paid off because he found it and shut it down. Had he not found it, the ship would’ve lost power in 6-7 more minutes. A ship without power is bad news. The captain would’ve had to call “abandon ship.”
This story just goes to show that it is crucial to know your job and know it well. Clearly the Chief Engineer knew his job. He saved many lives that day at sea.