NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Rainier
June 3 – 14, 2019
Mission: Kodiak Island Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Kodiak Island, Alaska
Date: June 8, 2019
Time: 1630 hours
Location: Saltery Cove, Kodiak Island
Weather from the Bridge:
Latitude: 57°29.2124’ N
Longitude: 152°44.0648’ W
Wind Speed: 15 knots
Wind Direction: N (354 degrees)
Air Temperature: 9.24° Celsius
Water Temperature: 8.89° Celsius
Science and Technology Log
Let’s talk charts. A chart is a map that shows specific details of the shoreline and the seafloor, including depth (usually in fathoms) and notable features. Click here to view the chart of the area, “Chiniak Bay to Dangerous Cape.” Can you find Saltery Cove, where we are currently anchored? How about Cape Greville and Sequel Point? The latter are located at the northern and southern ends of the area that we surveyed with the launch last Wednesday afternoon.
If you look carefully, you will see many symbols along the shoreline. An asterisk represents a rock awash that may only be visible when the water recedes at low tide. A series of dots represents sandy shore, while small scallop shapes and circles denote breakers and stones, respectively. The small, filled in triangles on land show where there are cliffs or steep slopes. The symbol that looks like a stick with small branches represents kelp. Kelp is considered a possible hazard, since it can get wrapped around the propeller of a boat.
Now move your gaze to the ocean. The numbers that you see are depth soundings, measured in fathoms. Recall that one fathom equals 6 feet. This means that where you see a sounding of 9 fathoms, the water is actually 54 feet deep (relative to the mean lower low water datum). If you are looking at the area near Cape Greville, all of the soundings that you see on the chart were taken between 1900 and 1939, before the invention of multibeam sonar. There was a magnitude 9.2 earthquake on March 27, 1964 that changed the depths and shapes of the landforms. Finally, you should not discount the effects of weathering and erosion by wave action on this area. The dynamic nature of it all makes the work that NOAA is doing all the more important for the safety of anyone at sea.
Career Focus – Steward
With so many people and so much work being done every day, how do you ensure good morale among the crew? You make sure that they are well fed! That’s where the Stewards Department comes in to play. I met with Kimrie Zentmeyer, Acting Chief Steward, to learn how she and her staff take care of all of the people on the ship.
The Stewards Department is like a sweet grandmother, spoiling her grandbabies by providing good food and other comforts to the entire Rainier family. Stewards plan and prepare the meals, supply appropriate linens and bedding, and maintain a positive, upbeat attitude in the face of a potentially stressful work environment. Stewards work long hours in close quarters and, as Kimrie says, provide the “customer service” of the ship. Kimrie herself has worked on ships for many years. She started out as a mess person for Chevron Shipping when her daughter left home for college. As part of the NOAA Relief Pool, Kimrie has worked on ten of NOAA’s ships, filling positions on a temporary basis until permanent employees can be found. It is clear that she has a deep understanding of the emotional needs of a ship’s crew, and she enjoys the camaraderie and cooperation that develop in this unique work environment.
This evening for dinner, I had baked salmon, green beans, macaroni and cheese, a salad, and an amazing berry pie. Everything was prepared fresh, and I felt quite satisfied afterwards. Thank you, stewards!
I would like to take some time to write about the ship. Rainier is a hydrographic survey vessel. (For more information about what that means, see my last post!) Constructed in Jacksonville Florida, and then later commissioned in 1968, Rainier is one of the longest-serving ships in NOAA’s fleet. It is named after Mount Rainier, a volcanic mountain in western Washington state. Students might remember that this mountain is located near a continent-ocean convergent plate boundary between the North American and Juan de Fuca plates, where subduction has lead to the formation of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. Our ship’s home port is located in Newport, Oregon. Originally, however, the home port was in Seattle, Washington, and so it was christened after the iconic Mount Rainier.
NOAA Ship Rainier is 231 feet long from bow to stern. There are six different levels, or decks, identified by the letters A-F moving upwards from the bottom of the ship. Each deck is broken into numbered sections, or rooms.
To communicate a particular location, you might refer to the deck letter and section number. You might also use the following vocabulary:
Port – the left side of the ship
Starboard – the right side of the ship
Fore – forward of the beam
Aft – behind the beam
Stern – the back end of the ship
Bow – the front end of the ship
My room is located on the E deck, one level below the bridge. On the D deck we enjoy delicious, cafeteria-style meals in the mess, and we can work, read, relax, or watch movies in the lounge. The steering takes place on the Bridge, the command center of the ship. I will highlight the bridge in a future post. Other common areas include the Plotting Room, the Holodeck, the Boat Deck, Flying Deck, and Fantail. There is also a laundry room and even a gym! Although it can be a bit confusing at first, the ship’s layout makes sense and allows for efficiency without sacrificing the crew’s comfort.
Word of the Day
athwart – at right angles to fore and aft; across the centerline of the ship