Jennifer Fry: March 12, 2012, Oscar Elton Sette

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jennifer Fry
Onboard NOAA Ship, Oscar Elton Sette
March 12 – March 26, 2012

Mission: Fisheries Study
Geographical area of cruise: American Samoa
Date: March 12, 2012

Pago Pago Harbor

Personal Log

The governor's house is situated high on a hill, overlooking the pristine waters of Pago Pago Harbor.

The Oscar Elton Sette departs  in the morning.  The ship has been readied with the necessary supplies  for the next two weeks at sea.  The view of Pago Pago harbor from the ship is breathtaking, the  multi-layered  variety of green, lush tropical plants cover the steep hills that envelope the harbor. The sapphire-blue colored  seas are so striking and luckily are very calm. Only  a gentle rolling motion is felt as we  slowly amble to our destination offshore.

Soon the emergency drills begin calling us to “muster” to our emergency stations.  Out on the deck we met at our predetermined emergency station.  There are three very important emergency drills:

Fire /Emergency drill where we all meet on Texas deck after hearing the ship’s bell/general alarm for 10 seconds.

The second drill is a Man Overboard.  That is heard as 3 prolonged blasts of the ship’s general alarm. Each blast is 4-6 seconds in length.

In the event that you see the person who falls overboard, it is extremely important not to take your eyes off the victim.

The steps during a Man Overboard drill consists of:

1. Tell someone nearby to notify the bridge that someone has gone overboard.

2.  Throw something that floats overboard, such as a life ring,  to mark the location.

A cove in Pago Pago.

3. Keep pointing to the person overboard, this will help in the recovery process.

The third drill is the  Abandon Ship Drill.  This consists of 7 short blasts followed by 1 prolonged blast of the general alarm.  During this drill we are instructed to bring our survival suit, life jacket, a hat, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and wear closed-toed shoes to the drill.

After mustering on the Texas Deck,  we don our survival suit, a bright orange suit known as a  “gumby suit”  made of neoprene, which is easily seen during any emergency and acts as a floatation device.

Pictured during abandon ship are Jennifer Fry with crew member James McDade.


The NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette is named for Dr. Oscar Elton Sette. Dr. Sette was a pioneer in the development of fisheries oceanography and according to many fisheries scientists, is the father of modern fisheries oceanography in the U.S. He is recognized both nationally and internationally for many significant contributions to marine fisheries research. Oscar Elton Sette replaces Townsend Cromwell.

Oscar Elton Sette supports the scientific missions of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Science Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ship normally operates throughout the central and western Pacific, and conducts fisheries assessment surveys, physical and chemical oceanography, marine mammal projects and coral reef research. It collects fish and crustacean specimens using bottom trawls, longlines, and fish traps. Plankton, fish larvae and eggs are also collected with plankton nets and surface and mid-water larval nets.

The ship routinely conducts scuba diving missions for the Honolulu Laboratory. Ample deck space enables Oscar Elton Sette to carry a recompression chamber as an added safety margin for dive-intensive missions in remote regions. The ship is actively involved in NMFS Honolulu Coral Reef Restoration cruises, which concentrate scientific efforts on the removal, classification and density of marine debris and discarded commercial fishing gear from fragile coral reefs.

For more information about NOAA aboard the Oscar Dyson Sette, go to:

Science and Technology Log:

The ship is very spacious with a lot of  lab space.  They include:

  • Two E-Labs where the acoustics computers and weather computers are housed  Scientists collect and download  data in these spaces during experiments
  • Two wet Labs where fish are collected , analyzed, and processed
  • Hydro Lab where scientists prepare and process chemicals as part of  the C.T.D.  Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth experiments

Birds seen:

Frigate bird: A large tropical bird related to the pelican.  Its wing span exceeds two meters.

A frigate bird was seen from the NOAA ship Oscar Elton Sette as it left the Pago Pago harbor.

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