Jeff Lawrence, May 26, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 26, 2006

several of the deck crewmembers recovering RA 1 back to the RAINIER for the day.

several of the deck crewmembers recovering RA 1 back to the RAINIER for the day.

Weather Data from Bridge
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Wind direction: 70 degrees ENE
Wind Speed:  3 knots
Sea level pressure: 1016 mb
Present weather: overcast 1400’ clouds above ground
Temperature:  50 deg. wet/dry 52 deg.

Science and Technology Log 

Today the ship will raise anchor and head for Biorka Island.  First the crew will have to secure the temporary tide station equipment and make sure all the lines have been completed for the Wrangell Narrows.  While onboard I have had the chance to meet all of the crew of the RAINIER. The Chief Boatswain is Steve Foye and he has been a part of NOAA for 20 years now. He has served on many ships and is now on the RAINIER.  His duties include making sure all boat launches are conducted in a timely and safe manner.  When boats finish their day Steve and his crew are responsible for getting the boats back onboard the RAINIER for the night.  They also make sure the boats are fueled and ready for the next days work. Without Steve and the other deck hands little would get accomplished throughout the day. Steve is chief of the deck and is helped by

  • Able Bodied Seamen: Leslie Abramson, Jodie Edmond, and Jonathan Anderson
  • Ordinary Seamen: Dennis Brooks and Megan Guberski
  • General Vessel Assistant: Kelson Baird
  • Deck Utility Man: Kenneth Keys
  • Seaman Surveyors: Carl Verplank and Corey Muzzey
  • Boatswain Group Leader: Erik Davis
Steve Foye, Chief of the Deck Crew and admirer of nature!

Steve Foye, Chief of the Deck Crew and admirer of nature!

As you can tell it takes a lot of people working together to make sure the RAINIER gets boats in and out of the water, to their destinations, and ready for the next day.  The crew aboard the RAINIER are very skilled in what they do. Steve is also very interested in the local wildlife, marine mammals, and fauna of the Alaskan coastline.  He has had many years of experience in identifying the wildlife of this area. Anytime there happens to be wildlife near the ship, Steve is quick to tell me about it so that I can photograph the animals.  Chief Foye has a wealth of documents from the Alaskan Wildlife and Fisheries Department that help to identify the varying wildlife in the area. While onboard the RAINIER I have had the opportunity to view three Northern Sea Lions, two Alaskan Black Bears, numerous Sitka Black-Tailed Deer, a Dall’s Porpoise, many species of ducks and other birds, including the American Bald Eagle. I’ve only been aboard for 5 days and have taken numerous photos of local wildlife that I can share when with students when I return to Oklahoma.  Chief Foye has sat down with me to help me identify all the wildlife I’ve seen so far and pointed out some that he still expects to see on our way to Biorka Island.

Tomorrow we leave for Biorka Island and I am told that there is a good chance we will spot various species of porpoises and maybe a few whales. We should arrive at Biorka Island sometime Saturday afternoon where the crew will begin readying their plans for running lines of that area.

Personal Log 

Today I roamed through the ship talking to people aboard the RAINIER with various jobs. I learned many specifics about each of the crew and their responsibilities and also learned a little about them personally. The RAINIER has a good mix of people who seem to work well together.  All the crew’s members have treated me very well and I am enjoying my time aboard the RAINIER.

Questions of the Day 

Can you name 10 marine mammals that can found in Alaskan waters sometime throughout the year?

Can you name land mammals that can found in Alaska?

Can you name 10 bird species that live or migrate to Alaska?

Jeff Lawrence, May 25, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 25, 2006

Photo of ENS Nathan Eldridge logging weather data from the  RAINIER to be sent into NOAA for weather analysis of the area.

ENS Nathan Eldridge logging weather data to be sent to NOAA for analysis of the area.

Weather Data from Bridge as of 0730 Hours 
Visibility: 10.0 miles/16.1 Km
Wind direction: calm/no wind
Wind Speed:  calm
Sea level pressure: 1015 mb or 29.97 inches
Present weather: scattered cirrocumulus clouds, lots of sun
Temperature:  48 deg. wet/50 deg. dry

Science and Technology Log 

After completing breakfast I spent the rest of the morning on board the RAINIER and visited with the crew on some of their duties on the ship.  At 1000 hours I had a briefing on the bridge with Nathan Eldridge on how the RAINIER collects weather data every six hours that it then sends to NOAA so that, the data can be used by meteorologists for weather observations and predictions. Nathan has been aboard the RAINIER since Nov. of 2005, so this is his first full season at sea.  Nathan is an ensign signified by the acronym ENS.  He attended the NOAA Corp’s program for officer training before coming aboard the RAINIER.

ENS Sam Greenaway explains navigational charts.  Navigation is crucial to the ships success through the  Alaskan waterways.

ENS Sam Greenaway explains navigational charts. Navigation is crucial to the ships through the Alaskan waterways.

ENS Sam Greenaway has been aboard the RAINIER since Nov. of 2004.  Sam is the ships navigation officer and plots paths through the Alaskan waterways.  There are many things to read on a navigational chart, a good understanding of the charts allows Sam to plot a safe and direct path to the location at which the RAINIER will anchor next.  The ship will be leaving Wrangell Narrows for the Biorka Islands in the next day or so.

Personal Log 

Last evening I was invited by the XO, Julia Neander and AB Leslie Abramson to go kayaking in the Wrangell Narrows just before dusk.  The water was calm and the sun was slowly disappearing behind the snow-capped mountains.  The trip was very tranquil and serene. I enjoyed the experience immensely.  The crew aboard the RAINIER are very helpful and assist me in any way they can to make my stay as enjoyable and productive as possible. 

Questions of the Day 

What is the Beaufort scale and how is it used? What is the difference between a nautical mile and a statute mile? What is the difference in speed between miles per hour and knots per hour? What is the length of a fathom?

Kayaking excursion enjoyed after hours by some of RAINIER’S crew.  In photo are the XO, Julia Neander and AB Leslie Abramson.  Photo was taken by TAS Jeff Lawrence on the evening of May 24th in the Wrangell Narrows off the Alaskan coastline.

Kayaking excursion enjoyed after hours by some of RAINIER’S crew. In photo are the XO, Julia Neander and AB Leslie Abramson. Photo was taken by TAS Jeff Lawrence in the Wrangell Narrows

Jeff Lawrence, May 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 24, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge as of 0730 Hours: 
Visibility: 0.5 miles or 0.8 km
Wind direction: 260 degrees
Wind Speed:  5 knots
Sea level pressure: 1016 mb or 30.0 inches
Present weather: mostly cloudy but clearing off earlier this morning
Temperature:  47 deg. wet/48 deg. dry ***By the afternoon the weather was sunny with calm winds and beautiful scenery.

Science and Technology Log 

I began the day as usual with breakfast in the mess hall at 0700 hours.  I must say the staff aboard the RAINIER know how to make a person gain weight.  The food choices are great and there is plenty to eat.  I was assigned to work off RA 8 with a survey crew.  We left the ship at 0800 hours after a short briefing on the fantail of the RAINIER.

The RA 8 crew’s task for the day was to survey the area around the tide station to make sure the tidal data collected that shows the rise and fall of the tides was accurate.  Deck Utility man, Kenneth Keys, and General Vessel Assistant, Kelson Baird, piloted the boat to the destination and delivered the survey crew onshore with great care. The survey crew was managed by ENS Jamie Wasser, ENS Nathan Eldridge, Assistant Survey Technician Tom Hardy, and myself.  Using benchmarks that had been set by the National Ocean Service, we completed a triangulation survey of the dock where the tide station was located at high tide. Surveying is tool used by NOAA to make sure objects are where they are supposed to be according to charts and maps.  The crew of NOAA ship RAINIER surveys sites as they set up a tide station and before they disassemble it to move it to another site.

Upon completion of the tasks we returned to the ship while Kenneth Keys trained General Assistant Baird on proper docking procedures of the launch boat.  Everyone aboard the ship must work in unison to ensure a successful launch is carried out so that critical data can be collected, disseminated, and analyzed later aboard the RAINIER.  Quality charts and maps can then be generated for use by navigators of the shorelines of Alaska.

Personal Log 

Today I learned how critical it is for the people aboard the RAINIER to collect quality data to ensure the results are accurate on the finish product.  It is a better use of time for each group to take their time and do it right the first time as opposed to having to redo the same task a second time.  I hadn’t realized navigation of the ocean’s waterways was such a precise event and required such precise data collection methods.  This is a good lesson to introduce to students on the collection of scientific data.  Teachers must emphasize that the work can be tedious at times and that accuracy of data is the outcome that the scientist must strive to attain.

Question of the Day 

What is the type of data that scientist collect that can be represented by numbers?

Jeff Lawrence, May 23, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 23, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge

Visibility: 5 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 90 degrees
Wind Speed: 15 knots (kts)
Sea level pressure: 1001 millibars (mb)
Present weather: Partly cloudy
Temperature:  51 degrees dry/ 50 degrees wet

Science and Technology Log 

I began today by getting aboard RA #8 for boat launch operations in the Wrangell Narrows at 0800. The crew went to check a tide gauge that had been placed on a pier in the narrows six weeks ago. A data logger was attached by assistant survey technician, Matt Boles, to a laptop computer and the data for the past two weeks was downloaded onto the laptop. The tide gauges give a more accurate representation of what the tide is doing in a certain area. Tide gauges are positioned throughout the narrows but may be miles apart.  To get more precise data of the narrows, temporary gauges are used when the RAINIER is mapping areas where boating occurs.  Also, a horizontal GPS position was measured from a known GPS location to make sure the tidewater data was correct and reliable.

At 0930 hours we returned to the RAINIER to pick up operations officer LT Ben Evans who showed ENS Laurel Jennings how to use the Trimble Backpack to map piers and dock areas in the narrows. The Trimble Backpack is a GPS system that is carried on the back of a person. As they walk the perimeter of an area, it downloads data onto a logger that then can be downloaded to a computer later for data analysis.  This gives precise information to the cartographer to place the pier in the exact location that it needs to be on the map.

Upon returning to the RAINIER at 1530 hours we had several emergency drills including fire and abandon ship. The drills were interesting to watch as everyone went to their designated location for muster and directions on what to do next.  A ship’s personnel must always be prepared for an emergency.  Your shipmates may be the only help you will receive in an emergency.  Drills are conducted on a routine basis so that the crew stays sharp and ready in case of a real emergency.  The crew of the NOAA ship RAINIER is well-trained and prepared in the case they may have to use their training to get control of the ship in an emergency.  Several members on board have specialized training that allow them to take the lead in case of a ship emergency.

Personal Log 

Throughout the day I learned many new facets of global positioning and how it is used to make more accurate maps that can be used by boaters, ships, and people who live in the area. Collecting science data for NOAA maps is a slow, yet precise method that can take many weeks to get an accurate map that can be relied upon by mariners.  The fire emergency and abandon ship drill was done with precision and professionalism. I am sure I am in good hands in case of an emergency aboard the RAINIER.

Question of the Day 

The mapping of the characteristics of oceans, lakes, and rivers is known as___________.

Jeff Lawrence, May 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 22, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

Today the NOAA ship RAINIER was set to leave port with a brief refueling stop before anchoring later in the afternoon. The RAINIER was tied to port alongside her sister ship, the FAIRWEATHER, during a brief liberty at Petersburg, Alaska.  I began my day at 0700 with breakfast in the mess hall followed by a visit to the briefing room at 0800 hours on the next two-week duty schedule of the RAINIER.  I was joined by another civilian from the local NPR radio station who was onboard to do an interview on the mission of the RAINIER in the Wrangell Narrows, which runs parallel to Petersburg.  The radio interviewer, Emily Schwing, asked many questions about how the sonar system works and how often the RAINIER would be back to check if the currents in the Wrangell Narrows had changed the channel.  She learned that the system of sonar mapping used today is much more efficient than the beamed sonar used in past years.  Side-scan and multi-beam sonar are now employed to map the bottom of the shipping channels, narrows, and ports.  The RAINIER mapped an area recently in a few weeks that took 19 years to map under the old system.

At 0945 the RAINIER left port for a short jaunt of about 400 yards for refueling.  The fueling process on a large ship such as the RAINIER is not a quick-stop process, which many people are accustomed to while fueling their vehicles. The RAINIER took on 22,000 gallons of fuel. This process lasted over three hours due to the slow pumping, which pumped out about 150 gallons per minute.  That seemed quite fast to me, but Captain Guy Noll explained that fuel could be pumped much faster for the larger ships. While refueling I received an overview from ENS Jennings of damage control onboard a ship and where to go in case of an emergency.

1) Fire emergency – Indicated by one long 10-second continuous blast of the ships horn.

2) Abandon Ship – Indicated with seven short blasts and one long blast.

3) Man Over Board – Indicated by three long blasts.

At 1330 Seaman Surveyor Eric Davis took the skiff (a small zodiac type boat) out into the narrows to check if repairs that had been made in port were adequate.  He asked me to join him and while in the narrows he pointed out the channel’s navigation buoys and explained how they are used to guide both small and large craft through the narrows, which become very shallow and dangerous during low tide.  Upon returning to the RAINIER refueling was just about complete so all hands manned their stations to ready for departure from the fueling depot.  At 1530 we left port to travel down the narrows a few miles where we anchored for the night.  We will remain in anchor here for several days while the launch boats are sent out on daily runs to map more of the Wrangell Narrows.

Personal Log 

Throughout the day I found incredible opportunities for taking photos of wildlife including bald eagles, sea lions, and a variety of other birds.  Alaska has to be an ornithological paradise. The surrounding landscape offered an exquisite 360-degree panoramic view that allowed for spectacular photographs of the area.

Question of the Day 

What is the mean tide for Petersburg on this day using the data below?

Low tide was 4 feet at 2:33 am High tide was 13.5 feet at 8:10 am Low tide was 1.3 feet at 2:51 pm High tide was 14.5 feet at 9:14 pm