Laura Grimm: What Floats Your Boat? July 17,  2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 17,  2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42ᵒ 13.30 N

Longitude: 080ᵒ 13.60 W

Sky Conditions: Broken

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9.4 knots

Wind Direction: 089ᵒ E

Lake Temperature: 23.2 ᵒC

Wave Height: 1 ft.

Dry Bulb: 23.6 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 20.9 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity:76 %

Sunrise over Lake Erie; wake of ship visible extending toward horizon
Good morning from NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson!

Science and Technology Log

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson at sea
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is one BIG ship.  Here is a list of some of its characteristics:

  • Length overall: 208 ft
  • Beam: 45 ft
  • Draft: 14 ft below the keel (15.6 ft below the transducer pod)
  • Registered gross tonnage/Displacement: 1767 tons
  • Cruising speed: 11 kts
  • Survey Speed: 10 kts
  • Cruising range: 19,200 NM, 45 days
  • Authorized Officers and Crew: 34
  • Scientific Berths: 4 (They can take up to 4 visiting scientists.)

Follow this link for more information about NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

One thing not on this list is that currently, TJ is carrying four other boats + 6 life rafts aboard.  Of the boats aboard, two are the survey launches (mentioned in a previous blog), one is a Fast Rescue Boat (FRB) that is very fast and maneuverable (more about the FRBs in a future post), and the last is a work boat affectionately called 1717.  It is an inflatable boat with a ridged hull.  It is frequently used to do preservation work on the hull and inspect areas for future work.

Today, the crew used the 1717 to do a crew transfer to Erie, PA.  A crane (not a davit) is used to move this boat on and off the ship.

  • Crewmembers wearing hard hats stand in position around the boat. a crane hook lowers into view.
  • crewmembers secure hook to boat with harness attaching at four points
  • crewmembers steady boat as crane lifts it off the deck
  • crewmembers stand back as crane lifts boat above everyone's heads
  • crane swinging boat over the fantail
  • view of the boat suspended over the water
  • view of the boat suspended over the water, lowering
  • boat suspended over the water by the crane
  • boat being lowered to the water's surface
  • view of boat on water's surface, still attached to crane hook
  • overhead view of the boat, now with three crewmwmbers aboard

Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson runs the crane and Chief Boatswain (CB) Pooser supervises getting the 1717 work boat in and out of the water.

Able Bodied Seaman Thompson and Chief Boatswain Pooser pose for a photo on deck. They are wearing blue hardhats.
AB Thompson & CB Pooser get it done!
AB Thompson operating the crane with various levers
The crane can lift 3800 lbs when it is extended 50 feet.  Running this powerful piece of machinery is second nature for Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson.

There are many different types of ships.  People have been using ships for a long time! 

According to Britannica Kids,

“People use different types of ships for many different purposes. Some of the main types are trade ships, warships, industrial ships, and pleasure vessels, or cruise ships.

“Trade ships carry different types of cargo. Container ships carry cargo packaged in large containers. General cargo ships carry lumber, farm products, and other goods that are hard to ship in containers. Bulk ships carry coal, grains, and other loose cargo. Tankers carry oil and other liquid cargo. Refrigerated ships, or reefers, carry meat, fish, and other products that need to stay cold.

“Navies use several different kinds of warships. The largest are aircraft carriers. A carrier has a large flat surface called a flight deck that airplanes can use for takeoffs and landings. Other types of military ships include cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.

“Industrial ships are sometimes called factory ships. Some industrial ships are oil rigs. They have big machinery that pumps oil from the ocean floor. Another type of factory ship processes fish that the crew catches at sea.

“Before airplanes made long-distance travel quick and easy, people traveled in ships called ocean liners. Ocean liners had dining rooms and cabins where guests could sleep. Today this type of passenger ship is called a cruise ship. Cruise ships carry tourists and vacationers to seaside locations around the world. Cruise ships often have swimming pools, shopping malls, and live entertainment.”

A cargo ship loaded with freight containers sails toward its destination.
A cargo ship loaded with freight containers sails toward its destination.

History of Ships

From Britannica Kids:

“In early times people moved ships with oars. Many early ships also used the wind to move across the seas. These ships had sails—large, raised pieces of cloth that caught the wind. Ancient Egyptian warships had at least 40 oars and a single sail. The powerful longships of the Vikings also had oars and one sail.

“By the 1400s European ships had several sails. Sailing ships known as galleons carried large guns along their sides for making war. In the 1800s long, slim ships called clippers also had several sails. Clippers traveled faster than any ship before.

“Ships were made mainly of wood until the middle of the 1800s. At that time iron ships began to replace wooden ones. Steam-powered engines also began to replace sails.

Today most ships are made of steel or other modern materials. They have internal-combustion engines that run on diesel fuel or gas. Some modern ships run on nuclear power.”

Human-Interest Poll of the Crew

"What were the highest seas you have ever experienced? (Note to self: stay out of the Bering Sea!) 65ft in the Bering Sea, AK; 40+ ft in the Bering Sea, AK; 25 to 30 ft in the South China Sea; 20 to 30 ft approximately 2100 nm SE of Virginia; 20-25 ft in the Gulf of Alaska in January; 19 ft somewhere off the East Coast around North Carolina; 1+ ft off the coast of Presque Isle"
Crew’s responses to “What were the highest seas you have ever experienced?”

Personal Log – Christmas in July!

The U.S. Postal Service does not have an official moto.  If it did, it could be, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  What about Santa Claus?  He seems to deliver packages all over the world no matter the distance or weather!

Today, we had a delivery from a type of “Santa”.  At least that is what it felt like!  The U.S. Coast Guard delivered a package directly to our ship this afternoon. 

illustration of Santa on a stand up paddleboard, with gifts
Here comes Santa! He is bringing a very important package for our engineering department!

Our engineering department is very happy.  Maybe now they have what they need to fix one of our davits.  If the davits can be fixed, we will be able to deploy a launch (small survey boat) to assist with the survey mission.

U.S. coast guard boat approaches
Here comes the U.S. Coast Guard!
view Coast Guard members aboard the Coast Guard boat; one holds a box under his left arm
Package delivery!
Coast Guard vessel departing
Thank you very much!  See you later!

It was fun to have some visitors, even if they just stayed for a few minutes.

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He is sitting is a very important chair.  But which chair?

Dewey the beanie monkey looking over the back of a swivel chair
Peak ‘a Boo, Dewey!
Dewey the beanie monkey sitting in a swivel chair, behind four tall levers, on deck
There are some clues in this picture!
a crewmember in a blue hard hat stands in front of the swivel chair, operating the crane as it carries a boat back on board NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
Can you find the chair in this picture?

Dewey is sitting in the chair that AB Thompson sits in to control the crane that lifts the boat in and out of the water.

Did you know . . .

Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes?  It is the eleventh-largest lake in the whole world!

As I sign off, I will leave you with this thought: There are so many examples of career opportunities on Thomas Jefferson.  Do you like water?  Ships?  Machines?  Technology?  Cooking?  If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, a career with NOAA may be for you!  Think about it!

Laura Grimm: Heavy Lifting, July 8, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 8, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge 

Latitude: 42ᵒ 11’3 N

Longitude: 080ᵒ 13’0 W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Wind Speed: 5 knots

Wind Direction: 208ᵒ SW

Lake Temperature: 21.8 C

Wave Height: <1 foot

Dry Bulb: 21.4 C

Wet Bulb: 20.3 C

Calculated Relative Humidity: 91%

Visibility: 10+ miles

view of a computer screen showing a nautical chart with depth readings and colored lines where the ship has surveyed
An Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) display of our current hydrographic survey progress. ECDIS is a system used for nautical navigation that serves as an alternative to paper nautical charts. The colorful lines indicate where we have used the Multibeam Echo Sensor (MBES) to measure the depth and physical features of the lake bottom.

Science and Technology Log

The Great Lakes system including all five lakes plus the St. Lawrence Seaway is one of the largest concentrations of freshwater on Earth.  It carries billions of dollars of cargo to and from the Atlantic, has about 10,000 miles of coastline, hosts a $7 billion fishing industry, and heavily influences the climate in the region.

Vessels that sail on the Great Lakes are getting bigger and are super important to the US economy.  For these ships to travel safely they need a certain depth of water.  If the water is too shallow, they run aground and essentially get stuck.  “Draft” is the vertical height between the waterline and the lowest point of the hull. It is how deep the hull can go, allowing the boat to float freely and without touching the bottom of the body of water such as the sea, ocean, or lake.  NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has a draft of 14 feet + the equipment secured to the hull making the working draft 15.5 feet. 

Those individuals navigating the ship use a huge variety of tools.  One of them is a navigation map, also known as a nautical chart, on which has listed the water depthat various locations.   Just like you and your family might use a map to get from Cleveland to Boston, those navigating a ship use a chart to cross lakes and oceans.    

(* Most of these numbers were made using ancient technology called “lead lines”.  They are old data, but apparently, they are pretty accurate considering the technology hydrographers had at the time.)

part of a nautical map of Presque Isle off of Erie, PA
The above is part of a nautical map of Presque Isle off of Erie, PA.  Do you see the small numbers in the blue portion of this map? These are water depth measurements. It is very important to look at the unit of measure.  It could be in feet, meters, or fathoms.  A fathom is equal to one 2 yards or 6 feet. The above unit of measure is meters.
road map of Presque Isle
A road map of Presque Isle.  How are “on land” maps similar to “on water” maps?  How are they different?  What symbols would they have in common?  What symbols would be unique?

A great amount of data on nautical charts of the Great Lakes is more than 50 years old, and only about 5 to 15 percent of the Great Lakes are mapped to modern standards.

One of NOAA’s missions for 2022 is to conduct several hydrographic survey missions on the Great Lakes. 

“Missions” are broken down into field survey “projects”, which in 2022 include surveying Western Lake Michigan, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Western Lake Huron, the Detroit River (Michigan) between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, and the Cleveland area as well as the vicinity of South Bass Island and Presque Isle (Pennsylvania).

In collaboration between the Office of Coast Survey and the ship’s command, projects are broken down into “Sheets”.  Survey ships will work at completing one sheet at a time.  The number of sheets per project various greatly depending on a myriad of factors.

a geographic map of Lake Erie with blue outlines marking different "sheets" in the project
Sheets around the Cleveland area surrounded by blue.  There are 13 sheets in this project.

Sheets are further divided into “polygons”.  Polygons are a more manageable “chunk” to work on . . . one polygon at a time. 

So overall, the order of magnitude and size in each assignment from largest to smallest is thus: Mission, Project, Sheet, and finally Polygon

When working on polygons, the survey is done either by the ship itself or by smaller boats called “Launches”.  Launches work on the part of the polygon that is in shallow water &/or close to shore.  NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has two launches, 2903 & 2904.  These smaller boats are stowed onboard the main ship.  The launch is a smaller vessel than the TJ, only 28 feet in length, with a 10-foot beam (width) and draft of 4 feet 8 inches.  They are equipped with survey equipment similar to TJ. 

a small boat in the water. we can see two crewmembers on the aft deck.
TJ launch #2904
two small boats in the water; the rail of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and a few crewmembers on board are just visible in the lower right corner
Both launches come alongside the TJ.

So, today’s question is how do they get these smaller boats (launches) on and off the main ship?  This is accomplished by an awesome hydraulic piece of machinery called a davit.  Vestdavit, a company from Norway, makes the davits that are on the TJ. Taking the launches off or putting them back on the TJ is a team effort!  It can be dangerous so everyone helping wears personal floatation devices (PFDs) and hardhats.

small boat secured on board the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson; we can see the brand name Vestdavit on the davit
Launch secured in the davit.
above view of small boat in "cradle" on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
The launch is sitting in its cradle. It is snug as a bug in a rug!

Notice that the launch in the previous pictures is secured to the davit by bow ropes, cables & hooks, ratchetted straps, and bumpers.  Ships move around a lot.  We don’t want the launches swinging and slamming into the davit.  As mentioned previously, this piece of machinery uses hydraulics.  Unlike the hydraulics we use in STEAM class, these use oil as the hydraulic fluid and not water.  The hydraulic fluid used by NOAA is very environmentally friendly.

The following videos and pictures will show how the davit is used to capture and raise the launch from the water and back onto the TJ:

Step #1 – Get the launch close to the side of the ship where it will be stored.  (2903 is stored on the starboard side (right side when looking toward the bow) of the ship.  2904 is stored on the port side (left side when looking toward the bow) of the ship.)

Coming along the side of Thomas Jefferson.

Step #2 – Get the lines ready and attach the painter line to the bow. The painter line is the white line in the video below.

Securing the painter line.

Step #3 – Attach the davit clip to the hook on the bow.

Attaching the davit clip.

Step #4 – Engaging the hydraulics will start to raise the boat out of the water.  Notice that the large orange bumpers on the side of the launch help to protect the boat from bumping into the side of TJ.  At this point, it is safe for the crew to disembark (get off) the launch.

Engaging the hydraulics.

Step #5 – The davit lifts the launch and places it in its hold or cradle.

Final lift of the davit.

Step #6 – Finally, secure the launch with a ratchetted straps or webs.

  • a crewmember wearing a helmet and life vest pulls on a yellow strap
  • a crewmember wearing a helmet and life vest pulls a yellow strap across the bow of the small vessel to secure it back on board
  • a crewmember wearing a helmet and life vest lowers or pulls a yellow strap at hte right side of the small vessel to secure it back on board

Unfortunately, they are having some difficulty with the davits aboard Thomas Jefferson.  No launches will be deployed until they can get the issue resolved.  In the meantime, data will continue to be taken using the Mulitbeam Echo Sounder (MBES) and other technology on Thomas Jefferson.  I read recently that the CO (Commanding Officer) always puts personal safety before data acquisition.  He and the crew really mean it!

Personal Log

Yesterday morning, I enjoyed watching the crew deploy both launches to do surveys close to the shore.  It was choppy with 3-5 ft waves.  I have not felt seasick on TJ, but choppy seas on a small boat would have made me revisit my breakfast.  The launches came back in earlier than expected due to the rough water.  It was exciting to see how efficient the crew was at deploying and recovering the launches . . . like a well-greased machine. 

Operations Officer (OPS), Michelle, asked me to work with Operations Officer in Training (OPS IT), Sydney in the Plot Room.  She will teach me all I need to learn about hydrographic data acquisition.  (More on that in a later blog).  There is so much to learn!  If you are interested in math &/or science, you might want to look for a job at NOAA!

view of a computer screen displaying the output of hydrographic software; there is a nautical map on the left and additional panels to the right
Image created by Hypack, the hydrographic software used by TJ.

My time in the Plot Room was cut short because we had a fire drill followed immediately by an abandon ship drill.  At school we have a variety of drills (fire, wind, lock down).  Sometimes we take these drills for granted.  We get lazy. Let me tell you!  I was not prepared for the ship drills!  Each drill is announced by the ship’s whistle.  This is great and heard everywhere – however, it is worthless of you have not done your homework and learned what the whistles mean!  I am guilty of not doing my homework!  I was running around like a crazy person!  Suddenly, I could not find my way around the ship!  What was the drill?  What did the whistles mean?  What should I bring?  Where should I go?

a muppet, screaming.
I think this is what I must have looked like!

From now on, I WILL do my homework.  I will be prepared, and I will no longer take drills at school for granted.  They are important!

AlarmSignalWhere to reportWhat to bring
Fire or Other EmergencyContinuous sounding of general alarm or ship’s whistleMain deck, port side, outside of the damage control pathwayNothing, egress ASAP
Abandon Ship6 short blasts of ship’s whistle followed by one prolonged blast02 deck, starboard side, by raft #3Must wear PFD (life preserver), hat, long sleeves and carry survival suit (affectionately known as the Gumby Suit)
Man Overboard3 prolonged blasts of ship’s whistle02 deck, starboard side, watch aftNothing, egress ASAP
I made a table to help me organize my “homework”!

For the little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey today?  Hint: it is usually underwater and helps move the boat.

Dewey the beanie monkey perched on the propeller of one of the small boats (out of the water, stored on board)
This part of the boat is usually under water.

A: Dewey is sitting on the propeller, also known as the prop.  The motor of the boat spins the prop which makes the boat go forward, or if it is spun in the opposite direction, the boat goes backward.

the propeller of the small boat or launch. since the vessel is out of the water, stored in its cradle, we can see Lake Erie and a dock in the background
This is the prop of the small boat or launch.  The propeller on the Thomas Jefferson is much larger! Behind the propeller is the rudder.  This can be moved side to side allowing the boat captain to steer in one direction or the other.

One of the TJ’s engineers shared this picture of the Thomas Jefferson’s propeller.  It was taken in the past when the ship was in “dry dock” undergoing repairs.

an engineer, wearing a hard hat, stands underneath the hull and the propeller of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson when it is in dry dock, i.e., completely out of the water
Just look at the size of the propeller and rudder of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson compared to the size of a man!

Well, that is all for now.  I am assigned to be in the Plot Room again tomorrow morning from 6:00-8:00 am (0600-0800)*.  I hope things go a bit more smoothly tomorrow.  These wonderful scientists have so much knowledge + they do not mind me asking many, many questions = a great learning experience!  Thank you, NOAA!

(*The ship runs on a 24 hour clock. Examples: 9:00 am = 0900. 3:00 pm = 1500. It’s easy once you get used to it. Also, I found out this morning that if you are scheduled for 0600, you really are supposed to show up at 0530. Oops! I try to keep a growth mindset in all I do!)

Lisa Battig: Launching the Small Boats, September 1, 2017

Teacher at Sea

Lisa Battig

Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather 

August 28 – September 8, 2017

 

Mission: Arctic Hydrographic Survey final leg

Geographic Area of Cruise: Brevig Mission, Alaska
Latitude  65 19.2N,  Longitude 166 30.7W

Date: September 1, 2017

Weather from the Bridge:  extremely variable today!!

  • Morning: overcast, 6-8 knot winds, 41 degrees
  • Afternoon: partially cloudy skies, 2 knot winds, 48 degrees
  • Late afternoon: full cloud cover, rain squalls, 10-14 knot winds, 41 degrees

 

Science and Technology Log

Thursday’s science was a bit different. Two boats went out to do some final surveying and follow up in Port Clarence and Grantley Harbor. Because the area of Grantley harbor to be surveyed was in less than 4 meters of water, an Ambar jet boat was used with a single beam sonar mounted aft on the port side. The second boat that went out was one of the small launches for use as a dive boat for NOAA trained divers (https://www.omao.noaa.gov/learn/diving-program). The goal of the dive boat was to dive on a particular location in Port Clarence that was giving a strange image that must have been coming from a man-made structure. The sonar showed a grid pattern roughly 100m x 60m with lines 7-8m apart on the long axis and 5-6m apart on the short axis. The team felt strongly that they needed to understand what was there in order to determine if it was safe for anchoring. I’ll follow up more on this later…

I went out with the team on the Ambar. As is the case with all the small launches, the Ambar is brought down from the boat deck to the breezeway deck for loading before the actual release.

Ambar at breezeway
Ambar jet boat at the breezeway deck, loading supplies. You can see parts of the davit where it was previously cradled on the boat deck above.

All gear, materials, food (long days out there!!) and people embark prior to the final drop to the water and the actual launch. This takes a team of a dozen or so people working in coordination. Prior to the start of launch, a safety officer is required on deck to oversee the process. This might be the CO (Commanding Officer), XO (Executive Officer) or Operations Officer. Most of the other personnel involved are a part of the deck crew, including the coxswain (who drives the small launches).  A davit operator handles the control of the boat via cable(s) all the way down. The bosun (boatswain) on the breezeway deck is directing commands to the operator using hand signals. Several hands are securing the craft with ropes against the side of the ship. All of these moves have to happen in perfect coordination for the safety of everyone and the protection of the Ambar and Fairweather. Personal protective equipment is worn by all parties throughout. This includes a flotation vest or jacket and a hard hat which you can see on those on the boat in the image to the left.

Five of the other six small launches on the Fairweather undergo a similar process. Each is housed in a davit cradle and each has one or more cables to control the craft during its descent toward the waterline. The davits all shift their cradling position while the cables lift to assist in the release of the craft. Once the craft is entirely free of the cradle, it is slowly lowered down the side of the vessel to the breezeway deck for loading as described above. One boat, though, has a really cool option. This is the FRB or Fast Rescue Boat. This craft can actually be launched by the driver, which is a requirement of any FRB.

Boat on fantail
Workboat on the fantail – note the three lines attached, two at the stern and one at the bow. These are handled expertly by the deck crew during launch to keep her true.

The final craft is a workboat which is housed on the fantail. It is not used for surveying, but will often be employed as passenger transport. It is also used for pick up and drop off of material that may be used on land, such as the HorCon station discussed in my previous post. This craft is not seated in a davit cradle and is instead launched through the use of a very large crane (see image below). The crane is attached to the launch at a center point connected with three lines.

Crane on Fairweather
Crane on the Fairweather boat deck centered between four small launch davits.

The craft is moved from the position on the fantail to either the port or starboard side level with the deck and lowered to the water before loading. For this reason, it is much more difficult to keep it completely horizontal and not hitting the deck and doing damage to the Fairweather.

So back to the Ambar and what we were actually doing in Grantley Harbor. Much of the harbor is quite shallow and when a team had been in there previously, they felt that there may be some irregularity to the otherwise uniform seafloor. They had been getting some interference and scattering on the side scan. They wanted to understand why and also to get a complete picture of the harbor seafloor. With the Ambar and the single beam sonar, there is little to no danger of doing damage in extreme shallows since the equipment is not on the underside of the boat and the Ambar itself can be beached as there are no propellers.

Single beam on Ambar
Single beam sonar in its mount on the stern of the Ambar. It is in the down position as it will be when launched tomorrow.

 

 

 

We took the boat into the shallows with the single beam sonar to take measurements along lines to as shallow as 2m. While surveying in the shallows, we found that there were sea grasses growing and according to the Operations Officer who was on board, that may have been the reason for the interference. Regardless, we continued to survey a regular pattern in order to have good data for future charts. During this time, I was given the opportunity to drive the Ambar… which showed me how much more difficult staying a straight line course is than the coxswains make it look.

 

 

Ambar driving lines
Yep. The outlined line is my line. I am reasonably proud that I actually manage to make it from one side to another. But even that was with a WHOLE lot of coaching!!

Upon return to the Fairweather, the Ambar is reattached to the cable and brought back up to the breezeway deck. Ropes are again used in coordination to keep the boat steady as it is lifted, much the reverse of what was described above. At that point all materials are unloaded and all the people disembark. The Ambar is then hoisted back up into the davit cradle.

When I’m back in an area with lots of bandwidth, I’ll create a video post to show just how cool the launches of small boats really is…


Personal Log

Shipboard life on a NOAA vessel is quite different from life on land. First, because the ship is a twenty four hour operation, people are needed at all hours. Many of the positions on NOAA vessels run on a 4 hours on, 8 hours off cycle. Some positions have recently shifted to 4 on, 4 off, 4 on, 12 off to afford greater lengths of time for sleep. When you are on the lower decks, it is also easy to lose track of time – and of course when you’re in Alaska during summer, it’s still light out at 10 o’clock. There are auroras to potentially be seen in the wee hours and multibeam surveying that happens through the night. There are always people up and about doing things – so the ship is a busy place at all times.

And with this in mind, I have to admit I have not been doing a great job getting to sleep. But I do sleep well on the ship, the rocking is the best cure for insomnia I’ve ever experienced. And I have been eating incredibly well – and I mean INCREDIBLY well. Mealtimes are the same each day, so that’s a great help. I will talk more about the food and the kitchen in a future post. Fortunately, with all that good eating, there’s a gym on board, so I’ve been able to work some of it off. There’s also laundry on board and a lounge with lots of movies. I like it. And waking up to the ocean and a lovely sunrise each morning makes the tiredness not really matter much.

Little and Big Diomede 2
Light early in the eastern sky – the sun comes up all around you this far north. It’s truly lovely.

 

As a part of NOAA’s mission, we had the opportunity to go ashore at a small town at Port Clarence called Brevig Mission. It is a town of almost 400, most of whom are native to Alaska. While ashore, we were able to spend time talking with the people, purchasing some of their handcrafts and fish, and even visiting the school. The people live simple lives. They still hunt walrus, seal and whale and those foods are the staple of their diet through the frozen winter months. I found it fascinating that they use all of the parts of the animals – the items that I purchased were from seal and walrus.

ornaments from Brev Mis
On the left is an ornament made of seal fur and on the right is a pendant of walrus tusk.

 

 

The CO (Commanding Officer) also arranged for ship tours for people from the town. The folks were taken in the Ambar out to the Fairweather in small groups and shown around. It was fun speaking afterward with those who went – there was a lot of excitement! I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go to the town. They have a crazy history (see the “Did you know?” section below.)

Brev Mis Fam on ATV
Mom with her two little girls down near the water on their ATV. This is the most common form of transport around Brevig Mission.

 


Did You Know?

Cross commemorating Brev Mis 1918 flu victims
This cross memorializes all of the residents of Brevig Mission who died in the 1918 flu. It now lays on the ground aside the mass grave. All of the names and ages of the victims are listed.

Brevig Mission was hit hard by the 1918 Spanish Flu, perhaps in percentage mortality, the hardest hit place in the world. Of the 80 residents of Brevig Mission, 72 succumbed to the flu and died in a 5 day period. It was absolutely devastating. One of the current residents shared with me that reaching 400 is encouraging to the town and everyone there believes that the town is continuing to grow.

Mass grave Brev Mis 1918 flu victims
This is the location of the mass grave from the 72 flu victims of the 1918 Spanish Flu. It is a sobering place.

In 1997, the lungs of a well-preserved victim in the mass grave were shipped to a molecular pathology lab in Washington, D.C. and the flu virus was reconstructed. The evidence showed that it was a bird flu (similar to the avian flus which plague our world today) but incredibly virulent as it passed from birds to humans. You can read more about the findings here. (http://www.gi.alaska.edu/alaska-science-forum/villager-s-remains-lead-1918-flu-breakthrough)

Continue reading “Lisa Battig: Launching the Small Boats, September 1, 2017”

Paige Teamey: November 2, 2011

NOAA Teacher at Sea Paige Teamey Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson October 31, 2011 – November 11, 2011

Mission: Hydrographic Survey Geographical Area: Atlantic Ocean, between Montauk, L.I. and Block Island Date:  November 2, 2011

Weather Data from the Bridge
Clouds: clear
Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Wind: SW 5 knots
Temperature 13.9 ° Celsius
Dry Bulb: 13.5° Celsius
Wet Bulb:  10.0 ° Celsius
Barometer: 1626.8 millibars
Latitude: 41°08’39″ ° North
Longitude: 072°05’43″ ° West

 Current Celestial View of NYC:

 Current Moon Phase:

 Current Seasonal Position (make sure to click on “show earth profile):

 http://www.astroviewer.com/  http://www.die.net/moon/ http://esminfo.prenhall.com

OR

http://www.learner.org/

Science and Technology Log On a NOAA ship, similar to a military vessel, everyone has specific titles.  It would be like calling your principal or mom a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) followed by their last name.  Comparably on a ship there are tons of acronyms like (f.y.i., a.k.a, or my favorite o.m.g.). However, the acronyms the shipmates use are for titles and instead of fun text phrases they are based on status and certification. Ship acronym/name examples: CO: Commanding Officer XO: Executive Officer FOO: Field Operations Officer Ensign: “Fresh Meat” or Junior Officer Boatswain (Bosun): a Wage Mariner in charge of equipment and the crew GVA: General Vessel Assistant Today was full of events.  I awoke at around 6:02am and went outside to breathe in the fresh air and watch the day break.   After eating yet another delicious breakfast in the mess hall (cafeteria…we aren’t that messy) I was told by the FOO Davidson I would be going out on my first launch.  I was placed on the 3102 which unfortunately does not currently have any hydrographic equipment  (we hope to obtain a scanner this weekend sent from a Pacific Ocean NOAA ship). Today our mission is to go to the shores of Montauk, Long Island and retrieve data from a tidal instrument that was logging the daily tidal changes.  Normally these instruments can be accessed via satellites, however the most recent Nor’ Easter compromised the instruments and made its information inaccessible via the internet.  BGL Rob (Boatswain Group Leader) normally would be taking the helm (steering wheel of boat) and Frank (surveyor) and Ensign  Storm’n Norman also came along.  Ensign Norman is currently learning how to navigate a small ship for a new license so took the helm while BGL Rob supervised (she needs to log so many hours behind the helm before sitting for the exam).  All four of us piled into the 3102 while a massive davit (hydraulic lift) placed the 3102 from the TJ into the Atlantic Ocean. The technology behind the davit blew me out of the water (not really), but it was pretty amazing.  The ship was moving 5.8 mph (you walk about 1.5-2mph) while 3102 was being lifted out of the water. Boatswain Rob gave great tips to Ensign Norman; however, Ensign Norman was confident and very much in control of 3102 and did a fantastic job driving us to and from Montauk.  Once we arrived at Montauk, Frank opened the weather station and a huge amount of water poured out (probably why it wasn’t transmitting data).  It took quite a while to get the information downloaded on the computer we brought, because the system was out of date with current technology (so interesting how fast technology moves). While Frank was on the phone with an engineer stationed in Seattle I walked along the dock and met a lovely gentleman named Joe and his dog, Lil’ Sugar.  Joe was also a captain of a ship and ferried people to and from Block Island.  Joe was a very warm gentle soul who spoke of his years at sea and all of the unique experiences he has been fortunate to have on multiple vessels.  Currently Joe works as a Captain for a whale watching company (apparently Right Whales are migrating).   After my lovely chat with Joe and quick walk around I returned to the group.

Message in a bottle found on Montauk Beach.

Upon returning Frank had found a note in a bottle that a woman named “Karen” had thrown into the ocean and washed ashore in Montauk.  We presumed Karen was from somewhere in Connecticut (based on the cell phone number).  We called her number, but she did not retrieve her phone.   I will say for all of you wistful bottle throwers.  If you do this, make sure you use glass (it doesn’t break down to little plastic bits that fish mistakenly eat for food) and be imaginative with your note (I am not advocating for anyone to throw a bottle into the ocean).  Karen’s was very plain and gave little background or visual.  It was more fun talking with the group and imagining all of the personality and character she may have had (most of this was based on the jar she placed the note in…it was a Trappist Preserves jelly jar).  Trappist Preserves usually retails for $27.00 and is hand-made by monks in an Abbey located in Massachusetts.

Kimberly the Great in front of Acquisition Screen locate off of the Bridge.
Kimberly the Great in front of Acquisition Screen locate off of the Bridge.

When I returned to the TJ I spent the rest of the day (almost 6 hours) in the acquisition room, located on the bridge, with Kimberly the Great.  Kimberly is a seasoned surveyor (meaning she has been aboard the TJ for seven years) and was able to break down each surveying screen in an incredible way.  (Read Nov. 3-4 for a break down of Hydrographic surveying)

Davey Jones Shadow??? Skull and bones shadow in the acquisition room.

Personal Log Breakfast:  2 fried eggs, oatmeal, 1 hashbrown Lunch:  Deli sandwich with coffee Dinner:  Vegetarian “chicken” patty with tomato sauce and cheese, and corn Dessert:  Chocolate Cake (Happy Belated birthday XO!!!)