NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Rainier
August 16 – September 5, 2014
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area of Survey: Enroute to Japanese Bay
Date: August 27, 2014
Temperature & Weather: 10.5° C (51° F), Cloudy, Rainy
Science & Technology Log
The past week/ week and a half, docked alongside the US Coast Guard pier in Kodiak – it was easy to see people settle into a routine. This morning, however, we are preparing to leave the Coast Guard base – there is something in the air. Without it being spoken, it is clear both the NOAA Corps officers and the wage mariners are excited to get underway. THIS is what they signed up to do!
The Rainier is 231 feet in length, with a breadth (width) of 42 feet. She cannot be run by a single person – it takes a team, a large team, to operate her safely. Aboard the Rainier there is a crew of NOAA Corps Officers, including Commanding Officer CDR Van Den Ameele (CO), Executive Officer LCDR Holly Jablonski (XO), Field Operations Officer LT Russ Quintero (FOO) and a number of Junior Officers. There is also a full staff of Surveyors, Stewards, Deck Hands, Engineers, a Chief Electronics Tech (ET) and an Electronics Eng. Tech (EET). All of the people on the Rainier’s nearly 50 member crew take on more than one job and help with whatever is asked of them. It takes a team of people to drive the ship, a team to deploy launch boats, a team to process survey data, a team level tide gauges, a team to keep the boat in good maintenance, etc…
This morning, in preparation for getting underway, all NOAA Corps officers met for a Nav (navigation) Briefing, to go over the Sail Plan, to make sure all necessary parties were prepared and informed. NOAA Corps is one of seven uniformed services in the United States. Its commissioned officers provide NOAA with “an important blend of operational, management, and technical skills that support the agency’s science and surveying programs at sea, in the air, and ashore.” (www.noaa.gov) The Sail Plan, prepared today by Junior Officer, ENS Cali DeCastro, includes step-by-step guidelines for sailing to our next destination. For each location or waypoint along the route, the sail plan gives a course heading (CSE), Latitude and Longitude, distance to the that point (in Nautical Miles), the speed (in knots) the ship will be cruising at to get to that point, and the time it will take to get there. Today we are headed to Japanese Bay, and our cruise to get there is about 98 Nautical Miles and will take us almost 9 hours.
It is important to note that nautical miles and knots at sea are different than linear miles and miles per hour on land. Nautical miles are based on the circumference of the Earth, and are equal to one minute of latitude. (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/nauticalmile_knot.html) Think about the Earth and what it would look like if you sliced it in half right at the Equator. Looking at one of the halves of the Earth, you could then see the equator as a full circle. That circle can be divided into 360 degrees, and each degree into 60 minutes. One minute of arc on the Earth is equivalent to one nautical mile. Nautical miles are not only used at sea, but also in the air, as planes are following the arc of the Earth as they fly. 1 nautical mile = approximately 1.15 miles. A knot is a measurement of speed, and one knot is equivalent to 1 nautical mile per hour.
It is also important to be aware of all the safety procedures on board. There is a lot to keep track of – but the Rainier is well prepared for any kind of emergency situation. Prior to departing the Coast Guard Base this morning, our emergency alarms and bells were tested. Emergency bells and whistles are used during a Fire Emergency, an Abandon Ship situation, or a Man Overboard situation.
In any situation, every crew member has an emergency billet assignment. This assignment tells you where to muster (meet), what to bring, and what to do – dependent on the situation. For fire and emergency, abandon ship, and man overboard each person has a different assignment. Within 24 hours of setting sail, the entire crew does safety drill practice (We did this in the early afternoon today!) For fire and emergency both the general alarm bell and the ship’s whistle will continuously sound for ten seconds; for an abandon ship situation, seven short blasts on the ship’s whistle and general alarm bell will sound, followed by one prolonged blast; and for a man overboard there will be three prolonged blasts of the ship’s whistle and general alarm.
Safety is not only a concern in emergency situations – it is at the forefront of all operations aboard the ship. Proper safety equipment is donned at necessary times, especially when working on deck or on the survey launches. Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) are worn anytime equipment is being deployed or handled over the side along with safety belts and lines for those handling equipment over the side. Every crew member is issued a hard hat and must be worn by everyone involved in recovery or deployment of boats and other equipment. Closed toed shoes must be worn at all times by all crew and crew must be qualified to handle specific equipment. Everyone is also issued an Immersion Suit (survival suit), affectionately nicknamed a Gumby Suit! The Immersion suit is a thermal dry suit that is meant to keep someone from getting hypothermia in an abandon ship situation in cold waters.
Believe it or not – I have made a lot of connections from the Rainier to my school. At the bottom of our daily POD’s (Plan Of the Day), the last reminder is, “Take care of yourself. Take care of your shipmates. Take care of the ship!” The environment here has not only made me feel welcome, but safe as well.
For my Students
Here is a wildlife update. I saw Whales today! I think there were Humpback Whale. I saw quite a few blowing out near the ocean service. I marked three in my graph because I only saw three jumping and playing in the water!
Some questions to reflect on…
- Why is teamwork important? What can you do to be a good team member?
- Can you make any connections between the mission and rules I am learning on the ship and the mission and rules you are learning at school?