NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 22 – July 15, 2019
Mission: Pollock Acoustic-Trawl Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Alaska
Date: July 14, 2019
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Latitude: 56º 58.03 N
Longitude: 151º 26.26W
Wind Speed: 17 knots
Wind Direction: 120º
Air Temperature: 13º Celsius
Barometric Pressure: 1010.5 mb
Depth of water column 565 m
Surface Sea Temperature: 12.9º Celsius
Science & Technology Log
Ever heard of oilers? I hadn’t until I got to know Daniel Ruble, a member of the engineering crew on the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson.
Daniel is originally from Chicago but now calls Virginia home. After serving our country for 20 years in the Marine Corps, a friend mentioned that it was always good to have a Mariner’s Document (a license from the Coast Guard) “just in case.” Years later, he finally decided to put it to use, and got a job with NOAA in 2014. He started doing deck work, but his interest and experience in mechanical engineering eventually led him to the NOAA engineering crew. He is what they call an “oiler.” Oilers maintain, clean, and oil the ship’s engine, including the motors, gears, and compressors. Daniel has worked on every class of NOAA vessel (Oceanographic and Atmospheric Research, Charting and Hydrographic, and Fisheries Research) and all but one of the NOAA ships.
Daniel and the other engineers onboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson are easy to spot as they often have bulky, protective ear coverings either on or nearby. That is because the engine room is VERY LOUD. When I was given a tour, I was first given ear coverings, and much of the explanation about what I was seeing had to come later as it was too difficult to hear each other. I was told that seeing the engine room is like looking under the hood of your car. Just imagine your car’s engine magnified 1000 times.
The engineering crew is responsible for all of the internal systems of the ship. Without them, the ship wouldn’t run, and there would be no power or water. The engineering room actually makes all of the water we use onboard by distilling saltwater into potable (drinkable) water. Here’s how it works.
Saltwater is boiled using energy from the ship itself. Hot engine steam is passed through an evaporation unit, causing the saltwater to boil. The saltwater steam rises and then travel through a water separator which prevents any droplets of saltwater from passing through. After the steam becomes pure water, it is then carried away by a distillate pump. It is then safe for drinking and showering.
Each of the two evaporators on the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson can distill between 600-900 gallons of water per day, depending upon how fast the ship is moving. On an average day, the ship uses 800-1000 gallons!