Stephen Tomasetti: Cruising with the Crew, August 12, 2014

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Stephen Tomasetti
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
August 11 – 25, 2014

Mission: Shark/Red Snapper Longline Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
You can view the geographical location of the cruise here at any time:
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weather Data from the Bridge:
Air Temperature: 29.3 Degrees C
Water Temperature: 29.9 Degrees C
Wind Speed: 11.16 Knots
Barometric Pressure: 1016.4 Millibars

Science and Technology Log

There is no fishing for the next couple days so I thought I could use this update to talk a little about one of the unique science career opportunities aboard the ship.

The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps is one of the Nation’s seven uniformed services (the others being Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service). The NOAA Corps basically ensure that everything is safe and running smoothly with the ship. NOAA Corps officers have a solid background in science, math, or engineering. There are four Corps officers aboard the Oregon II, and many more in locations all around the world, such as Guam and Antarctica.

More information can be found here:

The NOAA Corps Emblem
The NOAA Corps Emblem

NOAA Commissioned Corps Officers on the Oregon II: LCDR (Lieutenant Commander) Eric Johnson, LTJG (Lieutenant Junior Grade) Larry Thomas, ENS (Ensign) Rachel Pryor, and ENS (Ensign) Laura Dwyer

While visiting the bridge today I spoke briefly with ENS Laura Dwyer who spoke to me about her history with NOAA and her duties onboard the Oregon II. Laura grew up as a “water baby” as she phrased it. She originally has a degree in International Business but after a few years of traveling and diving decided to go into the NOAA Corps. Her duties onboard the ship are to basically make sure the ship and passengers onboard are safe. Some of this has to do with using charts to maneuver through traffic in the sea.

Charts for Navigation
Charts for Navigation
Officer Laura Dwyer
Junior Officer Laura Dwyer

The charts are in fathoms which show water depth. The Oregon II tries generally to stay out of water that is more shallow than 60 feet.

Personal Log:

When it rains, it pours. That’s Florida weather anyways. Yesterday we left port in the pouring rain. There is something calming about the rain pounding outside the ship, like a persistent reminder of the awesomeness of mother nature. Although there are thirty one of us on board, the ship can be surprisingly quiet. Today in the moments after we left port I found some time to soak up the experience with Tom Waits in my ears. Perfect.

We don’t start fishing for another day or two, and I am eager to get out the longlines to survey fish, take data, and learn new things. But for now, I am content to be around a passionate crew of men and women (scientists, engineers, chefs, crew hands, IT support, medics, ship officers, students, etc…) who love what they do. I am going to try to quickly highlight somebody different for each blog post to recognize some of the talented people aboard.

Chief Steward Steve Daley
Chief Steward Steve Daley

Name: Steve Daley

Job: Chief Steward

How did you get involved with NOAA: Steve joined the Army after high school and found that he was good at cooking. He got married young and didn’t want to leave the military so he could support his family. He found his comfort zone in the culinary field. He served in the First Persian Gulf Conflict and left the Army in 1992 to work in Pennsylvania as a Kitchen Manager for the Department of Public Welfare. He continued his education while working in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and also teaching a class called Restaurant Professions in the prison system. For many years he taught in the prison and also furthered his education in the process. At age 50 he had 25 years of service and retired with full benefits before starting on the Oregon II in 2014.

What is your favorite part of the job: Steve enjoys the “closeness of the crew”. It feels like family, since it is a much smaller operation. He calls it a fun, cool job, and a unique opportunity that many people never have a chance to experience.

The food onboard the Oregon II is excellent. There are three hot meals served every day, and everything is delicious. Steve is a pro.

Steve works with the second cook Mark Potter. Mark’s been working on many different ships and rigs (besides just NOAA ships) since 2011 and really enjoys it. Mark is actually my roommate! He went to school at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute, in Michigan. Mark is a funny guy who constantly cracks jokes with a friendly demeanor. He will not let me take a photo for fear that he will “break the camera” (his words).

Did you know? In 1972, NOAA Corps became the first uniformed service to recruit women on the same basis as men ( Also LCDR Eric Johnson told me today that NOAA Corps at last tally has approximately 25% female officers. This is more than any other!

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