Oktay Ince: Farewell to NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, for now! August 8, 2022

NOAA Teacher At Sea
Oktay Ince
Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
June 20- July 1, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie
Date: Monday, August 8, 2022

Latitude: 40.08°N
Longitude: 83.08°W
Elevation: 902 ft

Columbus, OHIO Weather
Humidity:
74%
Wind Speed: SW 8 mph
Barometer: 30.06 (1017.0 mb)
Dewpoint: 72°F (22°C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi
Heat Index: 85°F (29°C)

Science and Technology Log

65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist (World Economic Forum).”

I can’t help but wonder what types of careers and jobs will be available for our students. However, I can speculate that marine science would have a huge piece on this “never-before-existed” future job pool when you consider seventy percent of our Earth’s surface is covered with ocean and among it eighty percent of it unmapped, unobserved and unexplored, according to NOAA. There are many different careers available within NOAA and I believe there will be many more new careers available for the future generations. 

You may wonder and ask why oceans are still unexplored. One answer comes from Dr. Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He states that one of the biggest challenges of ocean exploration comes down to physics. In the depth of the ocean, there is zero visibility, extremely cold temperatures, and crushing amounts of pressure. He also states that “ In some ways, it’s a lot easier to send people into space than it is to send people to the bottom of the ocean”. It is hard to fathom what it looks, and feels like under the water, at least for me as a non-swimmer. 

With technological advancements, who knows what mysteries will be solved in the world of oceans in the future? I think it is important to show our students to know the unknown world of oceans and inspire them to take careers related to marine science so that we can know more about our blue planet. Without knowing our oceans, there would be no future for our own existence. 

Personal Log

Oktay, in his Teacher at Sea hat and t-shirt, poses for a photo on the flying bridge of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson at sunset
Last Day at the NOAA’s Ship Thomas Jefferson

It’s been a great learning experience while at sea for 12 days. I have learned so much, met incredible women and men, and made awesome friends. 

As a STEM educator, the reason I wanted to apply for this opportunity is because I wanted to bring marine science into my school and community. By training, most of the time I spent time in various labs focusing on genetic studies using many biotechnological tools during my graduate study. But, it wasn’t until my NOAA experience to involve marine science research in the field. Much of my marine science knowledge comes from theory, reading books/ articles, or watching documentaries. This lack of experiential knowledge put me in a position where my students are also learning it from textbooks. However, now thanks to the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, I am confidently bringing any resources or tools related to the ocean, and atmosphere to my students. My plan is to create interdisciplinary project-based learning opportunities that involve challenging questions related to marine science. 

Thank you NOAA Teacher at Sea Program for allowing me to participate once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and thank you NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson crew for hosting me with great hospitality, and allowing me to learn more about marine science. 

Did you know?

Sometimes NOAA’s ships are open to the public for tours. In fact, I am planning to take my students to NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson sometime in September while it is still in Great Lakes.

Laura Grimm: What Makes the Great Lakes So Great?, August 3, 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: August 3, 2022

Weather Data from my home office in Dalton, Ohio

Latitude: 40 45.5’ N

Longitude: 081 41.5’ W

Sky Conditions: Partly Cloudy

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9 mph with gusts up to 23 mph

Wind Direction: SW

Air Temperature: 87 F (31 C)

Heat Index: 92 F (33 C)

Relative Humidity: 57%

Science and Technology Log

What is under all that water? 

Have you ever wondered what the seabed (lakebed) made of?  This information is important for several reasons: knowing where to anchor, pipeline &/or structure construction, habitat, dredging, etc.  Information about the sediments can be found on navigational charts.  Periodically, hydrographers need to take bottom samples to update these charts.  To do this, they bring the ship to a halt and drop a spring-loaded sampler to the seafloor.  The sampler snaps shut, capturing a sample of the bottom substrate.  The sediments that are brought aboard are analyzed according to grain size which range from clay (< 0.002 mm) to stones (4.0 mm and larger).

  • a spring-loaded trap attached to a rope, resting on deck
  • two scientists wearing hard hats and life vests prepare to lower the bottom sampler. one is holding on to the rope attached to the sampler, while the other directs the sampler with a pole or a hook
  • Laura, wearing a hard hat and life vest, pulls on the rope attached to the bottom sampler (strung over a pulley)
  • On the top of the chart is a ruler measuring 0-100 millimeters. 0-4 mm is classified as "granules," 4-8 mm as "small pebbles," 8-16 mm as "medium pebbles," 16-32 mm as "large pebbles," 32-64 mm as "very large pebbles," and 64-100 mm as "small cobbles." An inset box notes that 128-256 mm is classified as "large cobbles" and anything larger than 256 mm are "boulders." In the lower part of the chart, there are nine boxes with photos of grains of different sizes, topped by a scale ranging from 0-2000 micrometers. At the low end of the range, 0-125 micrometers is classified as "very fine sand," 125-250 micrometers as "fine sand," 250-500 micrometers as "coarse sand," 1000-2000 micrometers as "very coarse sand." and inset box notes that 3.9-62 micrometers is classified as "silt."
  • Bottom Sample Sediment Classification Tables. Sediment Size Classification, with Grain Size in millimeters: Clay - < 0.002 mm. Silt - 0.002-0.0625 mm. Sand (fine) - 0.00625-0.25 mm. Sand (medium) - 0.25-0.5 mm. Sand (coarse) - 0.5-2.0 mm. Gravel- 2.0-4.0 mm. Pebbles-4.0-64.0 mm. Cobble-64.0-256.0 mm. Boulder- >256.0 mm. Stone - 4.0-256.0+

What is it called to drive a ship?  The action of driving a ship is probably most often called piloting the ship. You may also hear people use the words steer, navigate, guide, maneuver, control, direct, captain, or shepherd.  Whatever you want to call it – I was super excited to pilot the ship.  I was also a bit nervous because it is so big!  Maneuvering a 208’ vessel seemed a bit daunting.

I first got some excellent tutoring by Helmsman AB Kinnett and Conning Officer ENS Brostowski.  All I needed to do was to make a 180ᵒ turn.  How difficult could it be?  I needed to take the ship out of the navigation system (commonly called, Nav Nav), go from autopilot to manual steering, follow the Conning Officer’s rudder directions, do some fine tuning, switch from manual steering to autopilot, and turn on the Nav Nav system.  Easy shmeezy! 

My legs were shaking just a bit.  I guess I did okay.  Someone did call up from the plot room and ask, “Just who is driving the ship?”  Haha.  They calmed down once they learned it was just “the teacher”. 

  • Laura, wearing a Teacher at Sea hat, stands at the helm of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. To her right is AB Kinnett. To her left is ENS Brostowski pointing at a screen.
  • Laura at the helm (now we can see the wheel.) AB Kinnett and ENS Brostowski look on.
  • Laura stands at the helm (the wheel is out view.) ENS Brostowski, standing behind her with arms folded, issues instructoins.
  • Laura, at the helm (wheel visible), looks upward and reaches for something (out of frame) with her right hand. AB Kinnett stands in the background but looks directly at the camera.
  • screenshot of a navigation screen that displays the recent track of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson as lines on a nautical map

Parallel Parking

We came into the Port of Cleveland on July 22.  The crew did a super job of parking!  (I am sure “parking” is not the correct term.)  They used the windlass and ropes to secure the ship to the port (on the starboard side) and then put the gangway in place.  Don’t forget to take out the garbage!

  • view of Cleveland over the bow of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
  • the interior of the ship is mostly dark in this photo, but we can see the lighthouse through the circle of porthole.
  • view of the stadium from the water
  • view over the bow of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. three crewmembers, wearing hard hats and life vests, prepare to throw ropes over the rail as the ship pulls up alongside a dock. tall buildings of downtown Cleveland are visible in the background.
  • three crewmembers, wearing hard hats and life jackets, operate the windlass on the bow deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.
  • a crane swings the gangway (a ramp with railings) over the side of the ship, ready to lower it into place.
  • crane lowers the gangway into place; crewmembers wearing hard hats and life jackets pull on ropes to help maneavuer it
  • gangway, still attached to crane, in place, connecting the deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to the dock.
  • crane lifts a set of six steps, with railings, in the air. a davit of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is visible in the background.
  • the steps lead up from the deck to the top of the gangway, which then ramps down to the dock. the fast rescue boat (stowed on board) is visible in the background.
  • crane lifting a crate filled with blue and black trash bags
Laura, wearing a Teacher at Sea hat, and four crewmembers, wearing hard hats, pose for a photo on the dock, in front of stacks of large coils of metal wiring
On dry land after 19 days!  This crew was amazing!  From left to right: 1AE Perry, ENS Castillo, TAS Grimm, BGL Bayliss, AB Thompson. 

Personal Log

In late April 2022, I was informed by the NOAA Teacher at Sea office that I would sail aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson on a hydrographic survey of Lake Erie in July.  Truthfully, I didn’t know what hydrography entailed – but I was familiar with Lake Erie.

I grew up only 20 miles from the Port of Cleveland.  As a child, my family spent a week each summer on Middle Bass Island where I learned to swim and fish for walleye and perch.  I was a sun-kissed, towheaded child that liked to catch frogs and talk with insects.  My daughter and I vacationed on Kelleys Island for many summers.  I even took an oceanography class on Gibraltar Island.  I was very excited to learn more about the Lake of my childhood.

  • a satellite map of the Great Lakes, with each lake labeled. no other political features are labeled.
  • a political map of the Great Lakes showing the lakes and the surrounding states and provinces. A dashed white line through Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario marks the division between U.S. and Canadian waters.
  • a political map of the Great Lakes, with the outline of the Great Lakes' watershed superimposed.
  • shapes and positions of Great Lakes superimposed on satellite map of Central Europe. Lake Superior reaches west to the Netherlands, and Lake Ontario east of Budapest.
  • shapes of the 25 largest lakes, to scale, all arranged near one another for comparison.

So, why are the Great Lakes so Great? 

The following video will help you get an idea of why these lakes are so significant.  See if you can answer the following questions while watching the video.

  1. How many lakes make up the Great Lakes?
  2. Why is the word “HOMES” a good way to remember the names of the lakes?
  3. How many states border the Great Lakes?
  4. What country is north of the Great Lakes?
  5. Geologically speaking, how did the Great Lakes come to be?
  6. How much of the world’s fresh surface water is in the Great Lakes?
  7. Which lake is the deepest, coldest, and contains ½ of the water in the Great Lakes system?
  8. Which two lakes are “technically” one lake?  Why?
  9. Which lake has the longest shoreline?
  10. Which lake is the warmest and shallowest?
  11. How does water get from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario?
  12. How does water that starts in Lake Superior finally get to the Atlantic Ocean?
  13. List three reasons why the Great Lakes are so great!
  14. List a few things that are causing problems for the Great Lakes.
  15. What effect is climate change having on the Great Lakes?
  16. How are people and governments trying to protect this GREAT resource?
What is so great about the Great Lakes?

When I travel, I like to read books that have a connection to my experience.  While on Thomas Jefferson, I read The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan.  It outlines the vast resources provided by the Great Lakes.   Not only do they hold 20% of the world’s supply of surface fresh water, they also provide food, transportation, and recreation to tens of millions of Americans and Canadians.   The Great Lakes are so very lifegiving, however, they are in trouble.  They are under threat as never before.  They need our help. 

In his book, Egan describes how invasive species – like the sea lamprey, zebra and quagga mussels – have colonized the lakes, issues associated with these invasions, and what has been done to mediate and prevent the arrival of future invasive species.  He also discusses the massive biological “dead” zones caused by outbreaks of toxic algal blooms.  Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Forecasts are a regular part of the NOAA weather forecast for the western basin of Lake Erie.  Human-made climate change, dredging of shipping channels, and threats to siphon off Great Lakes water to be used beyond the watershed boundaries all pose threats to this incredible resource.  He ends the book with what was being done in 2017 (publication date) to “chart a course toward integrity, stability and balance” of the Great Lakes.

All in all, it was a pretty depressing book.  It caused me to reflect, however, on what I can do as an educator to bring this knowledge to my students.  Even more importantly, how can I have students experience and eventually love the lakes and all they represent?  How can I get them to become familiar with and care for the nature in their backyard?  My work is cut out for me.

“We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. Or hear. Or sense.”

— Richard Louv

The week before leaving on my “Grand NOAA Adventure”, I was nervous and started to doubt my own abilities and why I had applied to Teacher at Sea in the first place.  Was I cut out to be a successful Teacher at Sea?  Did I have the knowledge, skills, and fortitude to thrive at sea?  What happens if my technology crashes?  What if I am seasick for 19 days? 

Four things happened to help me move forward. 

  1. My husband – my chief cheerleader – gave me many doses of encouragement.  If he believed I could do it – I knew I could.
  2. I came across a saying on a tea bag (of all places) that gave me great strength, “Personal growth lies within the unknown; courage permits you to explore this space.”  This experience would take courage.  I am courageous.
  3. My daughter reminded me of a poem by Mary Oliver.  The last lines of which, “What are you going to do with your one wild, precious life?”  That’s right!  You only go around once.  Take the bull by the horns – so to speak.  Jump on and hold tight.  Life is short, and the world is wide.
  4. NOAA and NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program believed in me enough to provide me with this awesome opportunity.  They have seen many a teacher come and go.  They believed I had what it took to be successful.  I chose to believe them. 

NOAA TAS stresses the 3 Fs: Flexibility, Following Orders, and Fortitude.  These are words to live by. 

  • Flexibility = Everything doesn’t always turn out as planned.  Be flexible.  Those who are not flexible, break. 
  • Following Orders = On a ship, this is essential.  In life, rules are made for a reason.  Follow them.  If you believe that the rules are unjust, work to change them.
  • Fortitude = Have courage.  Be strong – physically and in your convictions.  Be tenacious and believe in yourself.

I wish to thank NOAA TAS program and all the people who live and work aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.  Thank you for the long conversations and my seemingly endless questioning.  My curiosity is insatiable.  Thank you for checking my blog for accuracy – it needed to be “ship shape”!  Thank you for brainstorming with me inventions that could be created to make hydrographic technology easier if there were no budgetary restrictions.  Thank you for opening my eyes to a world of science, technology, and research that I previously did not know existed.  Thank you for teaching me what it meant to be part of the crew. 

This experience has taught me many things about science and technology, career possibilities, what it is like to live on a ship, relationships and work culture, and the power of reflection.  I learned so much more than is represented in my blog posts.  I am looking forward to sharing my experience with my students and the community. 

All my best to my new friends.  May you continue to have fair winds and following seas.

Sincerely,

Laura Grimm

Dalton STEAM & NOAA Teacher at Sea

a bandanda with a pen or marker drawing of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson in the center. underneath reads "NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson Teacher at Sea 2022." surrounding the illustration are handwritten messages from the crew in different colors of ink.
Hand-made bandana signed by the crew of Thomas Jefferson

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He was getting ready to come home.

  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on top of a life preserver mounted on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson's rail.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on top of a life preserver mounted on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson's rail. Setting sun visible in the background.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey peaks out of a black backpack.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey peaks out of a black backpack on the desk in Laura's stateroom. Her Teacher at Sea hat is on the desk next to the backpack.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits next to a whiteboard displaying a drawing of a

Laura Grimm: Shipwrecks and the War of 1812, July 28, 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 28, 2022

Weather Data from my home office in Dalton, Ohio

Latitude: 40 45.5’ N

Longitude: 081 41.5’ W

Sky Conditions: Overcast

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9 miles per hour

Wind Direction: SW

Air Temperature: 74 F (23 C)

Relative Humidity: 88%

Future Weather Forecast: Showers likely and 70% possibility of afternoon thunderstorms

Science and Technology Log – and a Little History

Shipwrecks & Sonar

Lake Erie has an astonishing 2,000-plus shipwrecks which is among the highest concentration of shipwrecks in the world.  Nobody knows the exact number of shipwrecks that have occurred in Lake Erie, but estimates range from 500 to 2000.  Only about 400 of Lake Erie’s wrecks have ever been found. There are schooners, freighters, steamships, tugs and fishing boats among them.

So why does Lake Erie have more known shipwrecks per square foot than most any other body of water – with the possible exception of the English Channel?  At its deepest point, Lake Erie is only 210 feet.  Its shallowness is one of the reasons so many ships have sunk. 

a simple political map of the portion of Lake Erie around Presque Isle, which is off of Erie, Pennsylvania. 21 red dots in the water mark the locations of known shipwrecks.
The red dots on the map above show known shipwrecks off the coast of Presque Isle.

Hydrographers have found their share of ships over the years!  I am unable to identify where, however, the TJ found a shipwreck recently.  The following shows various multibeam echo sonar images of items found on the seafloor.  Not all have been found in Lake Erie.  😊

Side scan sonar is a specialized sonar system for searching and detecting objects on the seafloor. Like other sonars, a side scan sends out sound energy and analyzes the return signal (echo) that bounced off the seafloor or other objects. Side scan sonar typically consists of three basic components: a towfish, a transmission cable and the topside processing unit. In a side scan the energy that is sent out is in the shape of a fan.  This fan of energy sweeps the seafloor from directly under the towfish to either side.  The width of the fan is about the length of a football field. 

line diagram of a ship surveying seafloor features using both multibeam bathymetry (with lines depicting the sonar emanating from beneath the ship) and side scan sonar (towed behind)
Side Scan Scan (SSS) and Multibeam Echo Sonars (MBES) are often used simultaneously.  Thomas Jefferson did not use a SSS while I was aboard due to the depth of water we were surveying.

The strength of the return echo is recorded creating a “picture” of the ocean bottom. For example, objects or features that stick out from the seafloor create a strong return (creating a light area) and shadows from these objects create little or no return signal (creating a dark area).

illustrated diagram of side scan sonar. the sonar is towed behind the ship. a fan of sonar beams emanates from the sonar. they do not reach beyond a feature sticking up from the seafloor, creating an acoustic shadow beyond that object
This diagram illustrates how SSS technology produces images and acoustic shadows of objects.

NOAA hydrographic survey units use side scan sonar systems to help find and identify objects.  The shape of the seafloor and objects can be seen well with a side scan sonar.  This technology, however, does not give scientists information with respect to how deep the object is.  That is why the side scan sonar is often used along with the multibeam echo sonar. 

Four scans of the same shipwreck in Stratford Shoals, surveyed by NOAA Ship Rude in different years with different equipment. The top two images are side scan sonar images, created by the EG&G 272 (in 2001) and the Klein 5000 (2002). The bottom two images are multibeam sonar images, created by the RESON 9003 (in 2001) and the RESON 8125 (in 2002.)
Comparison of side scan (black and white) and multibeam sonar (colorful) images of the same shipwreck surveyed by NOAA Ship Rude using different methods and different kinds of equipment.

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson field work is focused in the Great Lakes for the 2022 field season.  Thomas Jefferson’s hydrographers are surveying the floor of Lake Erie in the vicinity of Cleveland, South Bass Island and Presque Isle, PA.  They are identifying hazards and changes to the lake floor and will provide this data to update NOAA’s nautical charts to make it safe for maritime travel.  

So why did NOAA decide to focus on this part of Lake Erie?  “The Port of Cleveland is one of the largest ports on the Great Lakes and ranks within the top 50 ports in the United States. Roughly 13 million tons of cargo are transported through Cleveland Harbor each year supporting 20,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual economic activity.”  The Office of Coast Survey continues to explain that “most of this area has not been surveyed since the 1940’s, and experiences significant vessel traffic.”

a nautical chart of the area of Lake Erie around South Bass Island. overlaid on the chart are polygons of lines showing completed survey work.
Hydrographic survey work completed in the vicinity of South Bass Island prior to me coming aboard Thomas Jefferson.

A Little Bit of History – Have you ever been to Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island?

Our National Anthem, a naval officer with the middle name “Hazard”, the War of 1812, and Lake Erie have connections. 

So, what does all of this have to do with Lake Erie?  In 1812, America found itself at war with Britain.  They were at war for three reasons: 1) The British were trying to limit U.S. trade, 2) they were also capturing American seamen and making them fight for the British (this is called impressment), and 3) they did not like the fact that America wanted to expand its territory.  Both the British and the Americans were anxious to gain control of Lake Erie.  Late in the summer of 1813, American troops were moved into Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, Lake Erie.   They hoped to cut off the supply routes to the British forts.

On the morning of September 10, 1813, British naval forces attacked. Commander Oliver Hazard Perry was on his flagship (a flagship is the ship that carries the commanding officer), the USS Lawrence.  (Isn’t “Hazard” a great middle name for someone in the Navy!)  He directed his fleet into the battle, but because of light winds, the sailing ships were slow to get into a position where they could fight.  His ship suffered heavy casualties.  Perry’s second flagship, the USS Niagara, was slow to come into range to help.  Four-fifths of Perry’s crew were killed or wounded.  He made the decision to surrender his ship, the USS Lawrence, and move his remaining crew and battle flag to the USS Niagara.  He was rowed half a mile under heavy fire, bearing his now-famous blue and white battle pennant with the words “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” 

  • photo of a flag that reads "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP"
  • image of a painting of a naval commander in a rowboat filled with sailors. the rowboat flies the American flag and the pennant reading "Don't Give Up the Ship." In the backgorund, warships under sail fire on one another.
  • painting of Oliver Hazard Perry

The British thought Perry and the rest of the American fleet would retreat after the surrender of the USS Lawrence.  Perry, however, decided to rejoin the battle.  At 3:00 pm, the British fleet surrendered, marking the first time in history that an entire British naval squadron had surrendered to an American vessel.  Huzzah!!  Huzzah!!

Perry wrote to General William Henry Harrison (who eventually became the 9th President of the United States):

Dear General:

We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,
O.H. Perry

a painting of ships on the water, a sketch of Oliver Hazard Perry, and the quote: "We have met the enmey [sic] ad they are ours...." O. H. Perry
A great victory against the British

Oliver Hazard Perry was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1814 for his actions in the Battle of Lake Erie and the War of 1812.  You can visit Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island, Lake Erie.

  • view of memorial from a distance, at sunset. the memorial includes a tall Doric column on a small spit of land, surrounded by trees.
  • a view of the memorial from farther away, with the surrounding town area and water visible. the memorial is a tall Doric column.

“Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie that took place near Ohio’s South Bass Island, in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led a fleet to victory in one of the most decisive naval battles to occur in the War of 1812.” (Wikipedia)

This video gives you a nice overview of the War of 1812:

Overview of the War of 1812

Oh, so you might be wondering what all of this has to do with our National Anthem?  The poem that eventually became our National Anthem was written during the War of 1812.  It was written in 1814 by a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key during the battle of Fort McHenry. 

Watch this video for information about Mr. Key and our National Anthem:

The History of the “Star-Spangled Banner”
Oh, say can you see, / By the dawn's early light, / What so proudly we hailed, / At the twilight's last gleaming? / Whose broad stripes and bright stars, / Through the perilous fight, / O'er the ramparts we watched, / Were so gallantly streaming. / And the rocket's red glare, / The bombs bursting in air, / Gave proof through the night, / That our flag was still there. / Oh say does that / star spangled banner yet wave, / O'er the land of the free, / And the home of the brave?
The National Anthem of the United States of America

Did you know that our National Anthem actually has four verses, but most of us only know the first one?  Look it up!

I’ve been part of the mission leg that is surveying off the coast of Presque Isle – as the survey around South Bass Island had been completed prior to me coming aboard.  The area around Presque Isle also has important historic roots.

Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie and is 4 miles west of Erie, PA.  According to a tourist website, “As Pennsylvania’s only “seashore,” Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating.” Recorded history of Presque Isle began with the Erielhonan, a Native American tribe who gave their name to Lake Erie.  Erielhonan is the Iroquoian word for “long tail”.  The French first named the peninsula in the 1720s; presque-isle means peninsula or “almost an island” in French. It served as a base for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet in the War of 1812.

monument on Presque Isle
The Perry Monument on Presque Isle commemorates the U.S. naval victory on Lake Erie in the War of 1812.

In the 19th century, Presque Isle became home to several lighthouses and what later became a United States Coast Guard station.  In 1921, the peninsula became a state park.  The Presque Isle peninsula formed because of glaciation and is constantly being reshaped by waves and wind. Since 1967, the park has been named one of the best places in the United States for watching birds.

  • Aerial view of Gull Point and Presque Isle State Park from the east.
  • Aerial view of Presque Isle State Park from the west.
  • aerial view showing breakwaters along the shore of Presque Isle
outlines of the shape and location of Presque Isle relative to the Pennsylvania coast line in 1790, 1818, 1837, 1866, 1903, 1968, 1971
Migration of Presque Isle from 1790 to 1971 – No wonder it is important to survey these waters!

During the War of 1812, Presque Isle played a part in the victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie.  Oliver Hazard Perry, commander of the American fleet, made strategic use of the bay as a place to construct six of the nine ships in his fleet.  The “Little Bay” near the tip of the peninsula where the ships sheltered was later named “Misery Bay” because of the hardships during the winter of 1813–1814, after the men returned there from battle. Many men suffered from smallpox and were kept in quarantine near the bay. A great many infected men died and were buried in what is now called Graveyard Pond.

map of Presque Isle showing Presque Isle Bay, Misery Bay, Gulf Point
Misery Bay

After the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, Perry’s two largest ships, the USS Lawrence and USS  Niagara, were badly damaged, and intentionally sunk in Misery Bay. Both ships were eventually raised.  The Lawrence burned while on display at the 1876 Centennial Exposition and parts of the Niagara were eventually used to build a replica of the current Niagara, based in Presque Isle Bay.

USS Niagara, a tall ship replica, under sail on Lake Erie, visible at a distance
We sailed past the USS Niagara in early July.
an old political cartoon captioned, "Queen Charlotte and Johnny Bull got their dose of Perry." A woman with a fancy dress and hat hands a bottle labeled "Perry" toward a King, seated with a crown and robes, who holds up his hand to refuse it. The bottle, uncorked, splashes upward, and in the splash are the names of battle locations. The woman says: "Johnny, won't you please take some more Perry?" the man says: "Oh! Perry!!! Curse that Perry! - One disaster after another - I have - I have not half recovered of the Bloody-nose I got at the Boxing Match!"
The British really did not appreciate Commodore Perry!

Personal Log

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: This controller is used to move a heavy object.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a control panel.
What do all those controls do, Dewey?

A: Dewey is sitting on the piece of technology that is used to control the davits.  Davits are hydraulic machines that take the small boats on and off the ship.

AB Thompson, wearing a face mask, beanie, and gloves, stands at the controls for the davits. Another engineer connects wires in the background.
Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson uses the davit controller to lift the boats

This time-lapse video shows the crew using the davits to pick up and then redeploy one of the small boat launches. (Video taken by Physical Scientist Dan Garatea)

This time-lapse video shows the crew using the davits to pick up and then redeploy one of the small boat launches. (Video taken by Physical Scientist Dan Garatea)

Human-Interest Poll (HIP)

Miss Parker makes a lot of yummy desserts!  I recently asked the crew to list their favorite.

a pie chart labeled: TJ Crew's Favorite Dessert Made by Miss Parker. Apple Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Cookies, Strawberry Shortcake, Bread Pudding, Banana Pudding, and Blueberry Loaf received 11.1% of the vote each. Peach Cobbler received 22.2%.
It looks like Peach Cobbler is the crew’s favorite dessert made by Miss Parker!  It is made using one of her mother’s recipes.

Meet the Crew

  • two surveyors pose for a photo on deck; one wears a hardhat and holds a line
  • two NOAA Corps officers, wearing hard hats and life vests and NOAA Corps uniforms, pose for a photo on the deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. The satellites and the penants are visible behind them.
  • AB Kinnett poses for a photo in front of a window, on which he has written electrical terms: resistance, Ohms, Current, Amps, Voltage, Volts. through the window we see the deck, the alidade, the ocean.

Dan Garatea and Surafel Abebe are physical scientists (PS) who work in Silver Spring, MD for NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) where they plan hydrographic surveys for chart updates.  They research and develop the plans and instructions for NOAA ships, contractors, other governmental agencies, and other interested parties to develop hydrographic priorities.  When on board during a survey, they manage and provide guidance for the surveys in the field.

two scientists pose for a photo in front of a railing on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. PS Garatea, on the left, wears a life jacket and hard hat.
PS Dan Garatea and PS Surafel Abebe enjoy another beautiful day aboard Thomas Jefferson

It is nice being home. I do, however, miss the crew aboard Thomas Jefferson. They are now back out surveying on the Lake Erie after a much needed shoreleave. I am having fun thinking about how I will use what I learned during this adventure to enrich the K-8 STEAM curriculum of the Dalton Local School District.

Laura Grimm: Chizzywinks and Hawsepipers, July 21, 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 21, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41 36.7’ N

Longitude: 080 40.3’ W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 15.3 knots

Wind Direction: 254 W

Lake Temperature: 23.6 C

Wave Height:  3 feet

Dry Bulb: 26.2 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 22.8 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 75%

a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Cleveland
We are back to surveying off the north coast of Cleveland

Science and Technology Log

Humidity: In each blog post, I report the dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures plus the calculated relative humidity. 

What is humidity?  It is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity will be high. The higher the humidity, the “stickier” the air feels outside.  Think about a hot August day in Ohio.  The air feels sticky and uncomfortable.  Chances are that the humidity is high.

What is relative humidity?  Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at the same temperature.  Warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air.  Once you know the wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperatures, you can use a conversion table to calculate the relative humidity. (I discussed this topic in my July 7: Echoes and Flares blog post.

This video might help you understand the concept further.

What is humidity?
dry and wet bulb thermometers mounted on a wall, inside a box. The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water. 
Dry and wet bulb thermometers are used to calculate relative humidity

These thermometers are used to measure the dry bulb (left) and wet bulb (right) temperature measurements.  The dry bulb measures air temperature.  The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water.  The physics of water evaporating causes the temperature to decrease. So, this thermometer will register a lower temperature.  A person then uses a comparison cart to calculate the relative humidity.  The dryer the air, the more quickly the water from the sock will evaporate.  A larger difference between the dry and wet bulb thermometers will result in a lower relative humidity reading. 

the white box with holes in the cover that contains the thermometers
The dry and wet bulb thermometers are contained in a white box with holes in the cover.  This is to minimize the effect of direct sun.

Students: We have a “wet wall” also known as a “swamp cooler” in the greenhouse to cool the greenhouse when it gets too warm.  How is this related to humidity?  How does this work to cool the greenhouse?  (Hint: Look up the concept of evaporative cooling.)

Latitude and Longitude: Each time I write a blog post I have told you where I am.  I do this by telling you my “address” on the globe by listing the ship’s latitude and longitudinal lines.  But just what are latitude and longitude lines and how do they tell you where you are on the globe?

Latitude and longitude are a system of lines used to describe the location of any place on Earth.  Think of latitude and longitude as an imaginary grid placed over the world to help you find places. Each place on the Earth has an address.  The address is where the lines of latitude and longitude cross.  Although these are only imaginary lines, they appear on maps and globes as if they actually existed.

illustration of a sphere covered in parallel latitude lines and vertical longitude lines
Latitude – Flatitude!          Longitude lines are Long!
a chart about Latitude (horizontal lines on a globe) v Longitude (vertical lines on a globe); illustration of a globe; equator and prime meridian highlighted
This chart summarizes a lot of information about latitude and longitude.
  • Latitude are the points north and south of the equator. The equator is halfway between the North and South Poles. It’s an imaginary horizontal line that cuts the planet completely in half. Latitude lines are imaginary lines that are a specific degree away from the equator going to the North and South Pole.  Between each line of latitude there are 60 minutes which are then again subdivided into 60 seconds.
    • They are also known as “parallels” and run east-west.
    • Equator = 0ᵒ; North Pole = 90ᵒN; South Pole = 90ᵒS
    • Northern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒNorth
    • Southern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒSouth
    • 1 degree of latitude = 60 nautical miles
    • 1 minute of latitude = 1 nautical mile
    • 1 nautical mile = 1.15 statute miles (Statute miles are used on land.)
  • Longitude are the points east and west of the prime meridian.  Like the equator, the prime meridian is an imaginary vertical line that splits the world in half from the North to the South Pole. Longitude are vertical lines going from one pole to the other starting at the prime meridian.  I like to think of the lines of longitude like the distance between the edges of sections of an orange.  They are further apart near the middle (equator) and get closer together as they near the ends.
    • 0ᵒ = the Prime Meridian that passes through Greenwich, England
    • 180ᵒ = halfway around the Earth; it is roughly the international dateline
    • Western Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒWest of Greenwich
    • Eastern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒEast of Greenwich
    • Longitudinal lines vary with distance from the equator

This video may help you understand these concepts more clearly. 

Want to understand latitude and longitude?

What is the latitude and longitudinal address of your town? Use this interactive map to find the latitude and longitudinal address of your house!  I found using the “satellite” view handy. 

Another way to find out is to go to  Google Maps and type in your address.  Once the App has found your house, right click on the red pin.  At the top of the list will be your latitude / longitude coordinates.

Chizzywinks: This message was recently written on a white board outside of the crew lounge.  What are these invaders?  They do not seem to bite; however, they are very annoying.  They are everywhere!

message on whiteboard reads: Please keep ALL doors closed! Flies are attacking the ship inside and out. Everyone report to your battle stations LOL
Report to your battle stations!
close-up view of midges
In mid-July we had a period with little wind. This insect covered many of the surfaces of the ship. While it somewhat resembles a mosquito, this is in insect called a midge . . . or a chizzywink.

No one on board seemed to know what they were (other than annoying), so I contacted two friends back home.  Drs. Rowe and Nault have expertise in plant pathology and entomology – but, more importantly, they are fly fishermen and really know about the insects that call Lake Erie “Home”.

These lovely, pesky insects are midges.  They have many other names, including lake flies, Canadian soldiers, or chizzywinks, just to name a few. They live on the lake bottom as worm-like larvae, many of which are blood red.  In this life stage they eat decaying plant matter.  Eventually, they enter the pupal stage.  This is a nonfeeding stage between the larva and adult, during which it undergoes a complete change within a hardened case.  The pupae (more than one pupa) slowly rise to the surface through the water column.  They are a major source of food for fish and other aquatic animals.  Fishermen consider them good bugs!  Those aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson might beg to differ.

Once at the surface, the adults emerge and get rid of their pupal cases in the surface film of the water.  They often emerge by the thousands. In fact, in certain places around the world there can be so many midges that once they die, they are considered fertilizer.

The adults look like “mosquito-like” flies, but don’t bite. Many are eaten by birds. 

Once the larvae emerge as flying adults, they stop eating and have only one thing on their minds – mating. According to Water Blogged, a blog published by the Science and Stories of the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the adults “gather in huge clouds and, well, get to know one another. After mating, the male eventually expires, with the female not far behind – but first she’ll return to the water to lay her eggs.”  The eggs laid on the surface sink to the bottom, and the cycle begins again.

(Students – Compare and contrast the life cycle of a midge and the monarch butterfly or darkling beetles.)

illustrated diagram of the life cycle of a midge: egg, larva, pupa, adult
Life cycle of the non-biting midge, a.k.a chizzywinks.

Learn more about the midge in this video.

Midges are invertebrates.

Meet the Crew

Chief Electronics Technician Justin Witmer points a screwdriver at a screw on a wall of technology
Justin Witmer, Chief Electronics Technician on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Justin Witmer has worked on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson as the Chief Electronics Technician for the past 3 years.  Prior to this position he worked for the Norfolk Naval Shipyards.  He is a sailor at heart having spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy.

What does your job entail?  He is responsible for most of the things on TJ that plug into a wall.  This includes the maintaining and repairing the sonars (which are essential to the hydrographic work), other ship sensors, computers, etc.  From the sonar on the keel to the wind bird at the top, he is responsible for the electronics in between. 

Where do you do most of your work?  I work mostly from my office which is right off the Survey Control Room where I do computer and user account maintenance as well as electronics troubleshooting duties.

What do you like most about your job?  I like to troubleshoot electronics issues.

What do you like the least about your job?  Administrative paperwork.

What do you like about working on a ship?  I’ve always enjoyed the general atmosphere of living on a ship.  With a good crew it is much like a large group home.  You can choose to get along with everyone, and if you can’t, the ship is large enough that you can generally get away from those you don’t see eye-to-eye with.

If budget was not an issue, what tool would you like me to invent that would make your job easier?  A cable stretcher.

Can you share with us one or two things about yourself that don’t have to do with work?  He lives in Norfolk, VA, speaks fluent Turkish, and like to play music (bass and tuba).  He also likes amateur radio.  His job lines up nicely with his hobbies – all except, perhaps, playing tuba.

So much of what TJ does to complete its mission relies on computers, sensors, and electronics.  Thank you, Justin, for all you do to keep the electronics aboard TJ ship shape!  Thank you for your service.

Personal Log

Safety is paramount.  Since discussing safety drills in my July 8, 2022 blog, I have done my homework.  I know what the signals mean, what to take, and where to go.  Today, we had three drills: fire, man overboard, and abandoned ship.  During abandoned ship drills, we need to take our personal flotation devices (PFDs), also known as life vests, and our Survival Immersion Suit which is lovingly called our “Gumby” suit.  We are expected to put on our suit in less than 2 minutes.  It is made from Neoprene to maximize flotation and hypothermia protection.  Being red, it can easily be seen in the water.  It also has a light and a place where we can blow up a head pillow.

A friend helped me practice putting on my Gumby suit.  I succeeded in putting it on I just over a minute!

  • Laura stands on deck and holds up the survival suit
  • Laura, wearing the survival suit, stands at the railing and waves at the camera. a life preserver is mounted on the rail next to her.
  • Laura poses in the survival suit

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He is sitting on a very important piece of equipment that we need when we want to lower or raise the anchor.

  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a large metal object with a chain
  • wider view shows Dewey the beanie monkey sitting on the anchor windlass
  • a view over the bow of the ship, with the anchor windlass in the center

A: Dewey is sitting on the anchor windlass.   According to Wikipedia, “An anchor windlass is a machine that restrains and manipulates the anchor chain on a boat, allowing the anchor to be raised and lowered by means of chain cable. A notched wheel engages the links of the chain or the rope.”  In other words, it is the machine that lowers and raises the anchor. 

a line diagram of an anchor windlass on a ship. the anchor windlass rolls and unrolls the chain that threads through the hawsepipe and connects to the anchor
This diagram shows the location of the hawsepipe.

I learned a lot new information today!  The steel pipe on each side of the windlass where the anchor chains pass through is called a hawsepipe.  I think because the chain goes up and down in the hawsepipe, a hawsepiper (*) refers to a ship’s officer who began his/her career in a non-traditional way.  They did not attend a maritime academy to earn an officer’s license.  They worked their way into their career like a chain travels through a hawsepipe.

(*) Remember this word. I will be using it in a future blog post.

illustration of a stockless anchor
Thomas Jefferson has a stockless anchor.

The anchor is usually very heavy and made of metal.  It is used to help keep the ship from drifting away from a fixed place due to wind or current.

TJ has a stockless anchor.  Watch the following video to see how a windlass and a stockless anchor work together to secure a ship. The chain really does a lot of work!

Lake Erie Fact:

Lake Erie’s primary inlet is the Detroit River which comes from Lake Huron.  Its natural outflow is via the Niagara River, which provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the U.S. as it spins huge turbines near Niagara Falls.

Soon we will start sampling the bottom to see if we are traveling over mud, clay, sand, gravel, or shells (most likely to be zebra mussels).  This is important information for ships to know who want to anchor in the area. 

I have mixed feelings about this experience coming to an end.  I really miss my husband, friends, cats, home, garden, etc.  Just this morning, I made the comment to Chief Hydrographer in Charge, Erin, how this has been an incredible experience . . . especially for a nerd who is super excited about STEM content and promoting STEM careers.  With minimal preparation, I was plopped into this information-rich environment with local experts who were willing and excited to answer all my questions AND I had the time to ask more questions, follow research leads, process my learning through writing, and get a taste of living at sea.

We pull into the Port of Cleveland on July 22.  It will be hard to say, “Good-bye” to TJ, this extraordinary learning experience, and all my new friends.  It will be easy to greet my husband after 19 days being away.  It will also be time to move forward and plan on how I will share what I have learned with the students at Dalton Local Schools.

It’s been a full day.  Ta-Ta for now!

Laura Grimm: Who is driving this ship? July 18, 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 18, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42 11.6’N

Longitude: 080 20.7’ W

Sky Conditions: Overcast (*)

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Wind Direction: 300 NW

Lake Temperature: 22.3 C

Wave Height: 3-4 ft.

Dry Bulb: 22.6 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 21.3 ᵒC

Relative Humidity: 92%

A chart of abbreviations for weather terms for sky condition, intensity/proximity, descriptor, precipitation, obscuration, and other
(*) This is a chart of abbreviations that I refer to when I go the the bridge to record the weather .
a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Presque Isle
This image shows the progress of the hydrographic survey off the coast of Presque Isle.

Science and Technology Log

The ship is driven from the Bridge.  It is the main control center of the ship.  It is driven by a variety of people and computers.  People who drive the ship include: the Commanding Officer (CO), Conning Officer (CONN), Officer of the Deck (OOD), and several helmsmen.  There are several (at least two) people on the Bridge all the time.  If Thomas Jefferson were a six-story building, the Bridge would be on the top floor.  Being on the 6th floor has its pros and cons.  Seeing, avoiding, and communicating with other boats in the area is very important.  One can see far and wide from up there!  One disadvantage is that things really rock ‘n roll up there when we are in heavy seas!

portrait photo of CO Jaskoski on bridge
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson’s Commanding Officer (CO) Jaskoski

According to a popular career website (Your Free Career Test), “A ship captain is in command of water vessels in lakes, oceans, coastal waters, rivers, or bays. They ensure the safe and efficient operations of vessels. A ship captain navigates their vessel according to weather conditions and uses radar, depth finders, radios, buoys, lights, and even lighthouses. They determine sufficient levels of oxygen, hydraulic fluid, or air pressure of the vessel.”

Are you interested in having a career as a ship captain of a seagoing vessel?  Watch the following video to see if you have what it takes!

How about a career at sea?
view of the bridge controls
The Bridge has many windows, and is filled with instruments, computers, and reference manuals.

Following are pictures of what is used to navigate and drive the ship.  Each picture is followed by a brief description.

a radar screen
Thomas Jefferson has two radars

Radar is one of the most important tools on the Bridge.  It allows us to see objects, ships, obstructions – basically anything we could run into (on the surface).  TJ has two radars.  The X-band radar is used for higher resolution pictures and things in closer range.  The S-band radar is used to see objects further away. 

The Officer of the Deck (OOD) and Conning Officer (CONN) use the Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA) function of the radar to identify “targets” or other ships in the area.  It is used to track their relative motion to see which way and how fast they are headed with respect to TJ.  The ARPA calculates the closest point of approach (CPA) and time to CPA.  This tells you if there is the potential of a collision.  The result is to change course, change speed, contact the other ship, or anything to reduce the risk of a collision.

If there is the potential for a collision, the OOD or CONN may contact the vessel and make a passing arrangement.  However, since TJ is conducting operations, they may also make a Security announcement to let other vessels know their whereabouts and status. (Sécurité is French for “security” and is pronounced se-cur-i-tay.)  According to Wikipedia, “Of the three distress and urgency calls, Sécurité is the least urgent.

Sécurité: A radio call that usually issues navigational warnings, meteorological warnings, and any other warning needing to be issued that may concern the safety of life at sea yet may not be particularly life-threatening.

Pan-pan: This is the second most important call. This call is made when there is an emergency aboard a vessel, yet there is no immediate danger to life, or the safety of the vessel itself. This includes, but is not limited to injuries on deck, imminent collision that has not yet occurred, or being unsure of vessel’s position.

Mayday: This is the most important call that can be made, since it directly concerns a threat to life or the vessel. Some instances when this call would be made are, but not limited to death, collision, and fire at sea. When the Mayday call is made, the vessel is requiring immediate assistance.”

Last evening, the CONN made a Sécurité announcement because the position, direction, and speed of a dredging vessel and the TJ were at risk of a collision.  As soon as the announcement was made, the dredging vessel altered its course and the TJ slowed down a bit.  We averted the collision with a very large margin.

A close-up view of one portion of the radar readout (green and yellow numbers on a black background)
A close-up view of one portion of the radar.

Above is a close-up view of just one portion of the radar.

HDG = Heading of the ship (per gyrocompass)

SPD = Speed in knots

COG = Course over ground ***

SOG = Speed over ground ***

The yellow numbers represent degrees of latitude and longitude.

(*** These parameters are course and speed after the influence of wind and current have been taken into account.)

Speed at sea is measured in knots.  One knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour or approximately 1.15 miles per hour.

Distance at sea is measured in nautical miles.  The nautical mile is based on the Earth’s longitude and latitude coordinates, with one nautical mile equaling one minute of latitude.  A nautical mile is slightly longer than a mile on land, equaling 1.15 land-measured (or statute) miles.

A combination of monitors
A combination of monitors showing and Electronic Charting System (ECS) and the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS)

The lower monitor and keyboard are the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).  It displays Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs).  This system allows officers on deck to see where they are in real-time.  It can be updated frequently when new information regarding navigation (buoys, obstructions, depths, etc.) are charted.  It has all but replaced paper carts. 

a control panel
Search lights and communication systems

The two panels on the left control the starboard and port side searchlights.  Upper right is a fathometer.  It is the less sophisticated echo sounder used to measure depth below the keel when we are transiting (moving from place to place) and not surveying.

Lower right, you will find the intercom that is used to communicate between the Bridge and the Data Acquisition desk in the Survey room.

close-up view of a radio control panel
This communications VHF radio is set on channel 16.

This radio is used to communicate with other ships in the area.  Information to and from the US Coast Guard is also shared through this device.

computer monitor
This monitor shows where data have been collected.

This monitor shows what is going on with a software called “Hypack”.  It displays data that has been collected.  It helps hydrographers and those driving the ship to visually keep track of where data has been collected. Also, it feeds information to the autopilot which allows the ship to stay on the course while surveying, without having to steer in hand or adjust based on distance from the line.

ship's steering wheel, or helm, mounted on bridge
The ship’s wheel

This is where the Helmsman stands and steers the ship.  The Helmsman takes his/her orders from the Conning Officer.  This officer is responsible for instructing the helmsman on the course to steer. Did you know that ships have autopilot?  The helmsman steers the ship when it is turning or doing complicated maneuvers.  When the ship is traveling in long straight lines (when we are “mowing the lawn”), the helmsman turns on the autopilot affectionately called, “Nav Nav”.  It is called this because the Nav button needs to be pushed twice to activate the system. 

control panel
This panel controls the power of the main engine that turns the propeller.
control panel for the bow thruster
The bow thruster control panel

There is a small propeller on the bow called a bow thruster.  This panel controls the thruster.  It is often used when steering the ship in tight places at slow speeds.  I like to think of it as a way to “fine tune” the direction of the ship.

There are many compasses on the ship.

  • the magnetic compass that hangs from the ceiling of the Bridge.
  • LED display of main compass
  • LT Catoire looks through the gyro compass, which is mounted on the deck

How did early people navigate the oceans?

The rudder is found aft (behind) of the propeller.  Both are under the ship.  The helmsman uses the rudder to turn the ship right or left. The rudder moves using hydraulics.  The pointer on the display above moves as the rudder moves.

  • dial displaying position of rudder. currently reads: 2 degrees toward starbooard side
  • gauge attached to rudder showing a range of degrees (0-45) left and right
  • view of rudder attached to hydraulic arms

Personal Log

We have had beautiful weather during this leg of the mission.  This morning, we had a beautiful red sky at sunrise. 

sunrise over Lake Erie; wake of ship visible
Red sky in the morning?  Should I heed warning?

You may be familiar with the saying, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.  Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.”  The Library of Congress states that this concept is also repeated in Shakespeare and in the Bible.

In Shakespeare’s play Venus and Adonis, “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field.  Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.”

In the Bible (Matthew XVI: 2-3,) Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red.  And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”

Weather lore has been around since people have needed to predict the weather.   Several agencies (NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory, Earth Observatory at NASA, and University of Wisconsin-Madison) have studied the science behind this piece of weather lore.

According to the Library of Congress, “When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles.  This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west.  Basically, good weather will follow.

A red sunrise can mean that a high-pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east.  A morning sky that is deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere.  So, rain could be on its way.”

The beautiful sunrise + the NOAA weather report caused people to believe that we might be in for a weather change.

  • satellite weather view showing a storm system moving east from Ashtablua toward Erie
  • view over Lake Erie, all water, toward the horizon. Storm clouds and rain visible in the distance.
  • davits raising the small boat off the water
  • monarch butterfly in flight
  • view out a porthole window, covered in rain drops
  • a hand reaching to press a button on the control panel of the ship's whistle

For the Little Dawgs . . . (Part 1)

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: Only a very important person on board is allowed to sit in this chair.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a leather chair
Dewey, have you gotten permission to sit there?

A: Dewey is sitting in the captain’s (Commanding Officer’s) chair in the Bridge.  CO Jaskoski gave Dewey permission to sit in the chair . . . just this once because he is so cute.

Dewey the beanie monkey sitting in the captain's chair, full view
Dewey chill’n out in the CO’s chair

For the Little Dawgs . . . (Part 2)

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: This is used by the helmsman to drive the ship.

Dewey the beanie monkey propped up on the helm
Hang on Dewey!  I am afraid that you are too short to do the work of a helmsman.

A: Dewey is sitting on the wheel in the Bridge.  Yes, I am afraid that he is too short to do his job.

broader view of the bridge control panels, with Dewey the beanie monkey on the steering wheel or helm
Watch out all who are in front of the bow!  Dewey is trying to drive the ship.

Human-Interest Poll (HIP)

graph of responses to poll: What do you like to do in your free time while on the ship? Read (7 people), talk with family (4), work out (3), play video games (3), other (3)
Other = writing letters, napping, or planning future vacations

Questions from students:

Casey M. asked, “Have you found anything shipwrecks yet?”

LG – Whether we have found something or not, I must respond the same way. It is classified information. I am not allowed to tell you whether we have or have not found anything until I am given permission to do so.   Thank you for your curiosity.

Evelyn A. asked, “Have you seen anything that you haven’t seen before on Lake Erie. Also, what is the deepest spot you have seen so far?

LG: During this leg of the survey the deepest we have measured is 28 meters (~ 92 feet) deep.  I asked one of my shipmates and she said the deepest she has measured is 999.8 meters (3280 ft or over 1000 yards) deep.  That’s deeper than 10 football fields!

I’ve had many new experiences and have seen lots of new things on this voyage.  The one that stands out for me is that we found a shipwreck.  I cannot tell you where we found it – that’s confidential.  It was about 70 meters (230 feet) long – a little shorter than a football field.  It looked as if it had been there for a long time.

Gretta S. asked, “Do you ever miss being on land or miss your neighbors (Wink, wink)?  How was the movie night?  How tall is the ship?  Have the waves ever gotten so high you could feel the sea spray on the deck?  Have you seen both vertebrates and invertebrates?”

 LG: Yes, I miss my family, cats, and neighbors, however, this is a voyage of a lifetime!  The movie night was great.  I didn’t stay up to watch the whole movie – bedtime called.  The ship from “keel to wind birds” is about 100 feet.  Yes, the waves have gotten high enough to wash up on to the main deck – especially during a turn.  I’ve seen a lot of insects (invertebrates) but few vertebrates unless you count my fellow shipmates and some seagulls! 

Josie S. asked, “What is your favorite meal on the ship so far? How do you like sleeping on the top bunk in your room on the ship? Did you see any fish in the lake?  Are you allowed to have electronics on the ship?  I liked the picture of you and Dewey on the ship!!!!  You look happy!”

LG: My favorite meal so far has been prime rib and sweet potatoes.  I like sleeping on the top bunk because I have a porthole.  My bed is very comfy, and my roommate is nice.  I have not seen any fish in the lake; however, we see a lot of seafood in the mess hall (examples: crab legs, cod, grouper, shrimp, oysters, and salmon).  Yes, we are allowed to have electronics on the ship.  I have my cell phone, computer, a small camera for videos, and voice recorder.  We use a lot of technology!  I am happy!  This has been a wonderful learning experience in so many ways.  I cannot wait to share this experience with my students when I return to Dalton.  (P.S. I will give Dewey a hug for you.)

Janie S. said, “We were at Kelleys Island last weekend! When we were there, we saw Canada with our binoculars! Could you see Canada?  What other foods did you have on the Thomas Jefferson ship? The deepest lake out of the great lakes would be Lake Superior. And the shallowest lakes out of the great lakes would be Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.”

LG: That is very cool that you got the chance to go to Kelleys Island and see Canada.  During the day, we cannot see Canada from where we are surveying.  The Operations Officer in Training told me that if you go on the bridge at night, you can see radio towers and lights from the windmills in Canada.  We are approximately 19 nautical miles (about 22 statute miles) from the nearest point of land in Canada which is Long Point National Wildlife Area in Norfolk County, Ontario.  We stay mostly 4 to 8 nautical miles north of Presque Isle, PA.  This link will give you all sorts of information about the depths of the Great Lakes.  Did you know that Lake Superior is eight times deeper than Lake Erie! As for the part of your questions about what other foods we have on TJ – I decided just to include a panoramic picture of one of our snack shelves. Just suffice it to say that we are very well fed!

shelf stocked with snacks
A panoramic view of just one of the snack shelves!

Keep those emailed questions coming!  I love your questions! Contact me at lgrimm@daltonlocal.org.  Be sure to sign your message with your first and last name.  Farewell for now!

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: The Eyes of the Beast, July 16, 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 16, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 14ᵒ 13.8’ N

Longitude: 080 12.6’ W

Sky Conditions: Scattered clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9.8 knots

Wind Direction: 212 SW

Lake Temperature: 23.0 C

Wave Height: 1 ft.

Dry Bulb: 20.6 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 16.5 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 56 %

a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Presque Isle
Current progress of the hydrographic survey near Presque Isle, PA

Science and Technology Log

There is a lot of technology used in the science of hydrography.  Each system and software have a monitor that needs to be checked and manipulated to be sure good data is being acquired.  I like to call this array of monitors the “Eyes of the Beast”.  At the Acquisition Desk, one can see what each of 10-15 cameras, software programs, navigational systems, and sensors are doing.

A view of 10 computer monitors set up at the Acquisition Desk
The “Eyes of the Beast”

A description of what each monitor is connected to will occur below the diagram.  I will refer to each monitor by letter.

A grid of boxes lettered A-J (4 on top, 3 in the middle row, 3 on the bottom)
Letters I will refer to as I describe the “Eyes of the Beast”

A = This is where you will find a suite of security-like cameras on the fantail (deck at the stern or back end of the ship) that monitor various pieces of equipment.  These include the MVP (Moving Vessel Profiler) and the (SSS) Side Scan Sonar.  The MVP and the SSS are attached to different winches on the stern and can be used at the same time.  We are currently not using the SSS because the water that is being surveyed is too shallow.  The TJ will often use the SSS between 25-40 meters of water.  We are surveying water with the MVP that is between 10-20 meters deep.

B = The monitor shows what is going on with a software called “Hypack”.  This displays data that has been processed (it is blue and green in this picture) and coverage of data being collected real-time that has yet to be processed (yellow).  Blue = water that is between 22-25 meters of depth; Green = water that is between 10-22 meters of depth.  It also has the nautical chart displayed in the background showing water (light blue) and land (tan).  It helps hydrographers visually keep track of what data has been taken and what still needs to be completed.

C & D = These are currently not conveying any information.   They can be used when other sensors like the SSS and a different Multibeam Echo Sounder, referred to as the EM 710 (pronounced “seven-ten”), are in use.

Warning!  Warning!  Nerd Alert!

  • The MBES that we are currently using to acquire data is more technically called the EM 2040 (pronounced “twenty-forty”).  It uses between 200-400 kilohertz (kHz) of sound energy.  One kHz equals one 1000 hertz (1000 Hz).  Therefore, 200 kHz = 200,000 Hz.  A hertz is a measurement of frequency of sound or how quickly a wave of sound moves past a fixed point.  1 hertz = 1 cycle per second.  The EM 2040 can measure as deep as 300 meters.  It is for higher resolution of images in shallow water.
  • The EM 710 emits sound energy in the range of 70-100 kHz.  It is used to survey deeper waters and can image as deep as 2300 meters.  The resolution is lower than the 2040.
  • Increasing kHz = use in shallow water with more resolution
  • Decreasing kHz = use in deeper water with less resolution

E = This monitor is also linked to the Hypack software.  It is used to plan the survey (what “lines” to drive), show the real-time acquisition of data, and help to communicate with the bridge – letting them know where to go next.  There is constant conversation between the bridge and the hydrographers in the survey room.  They frequently discuss what line should the ship go to next.  They also talk over the width of the lines with respect to sonar coverage (and adjust them accordingly) and plan what will happen when there are small fishing vessel or other obstructions (buoys, primarily) in the area.

F = MVPs actions and controls are shown on this monitor.  The Hydrographer in Charge (HIC) can also keep an eye on the MVP by looking at camera monitor “A” explained above.

screenshot of a computer display
This is the computer that controls the MVP.  The Hydrographer in Charge (HIC) does this from the acquisition desk in the Plot Room.  The blue line above shows the movement of the MVP and its location in the water column.  It was sent down to 1.5 meters above the floor of the lake.

G = This is the monitor for the Positioning & Attitude System (POS).  It provides information with respect to the ship’s position (latitude and longitude), its direction and how it is “sitting” in the water.

Meet the Crew – Erin Cziraki (CHST)

Erin sits at the acquisition desk, with a hand on the computer mouse, looking at one of the many monitors
Erin Cziraki, Chief Hydrographic Survey Technician (CHST)

There is a soft spoken, ever pleasant Chief Hydrographic Survey Technician (CHST), who is great at taming the “beast”.  Her name is Erin Cziraki.  She supervises the survey department that is comprised of 6 members, makes the watch schedules, oversees training, is a mentor to new hydrographers as they work through their first project, compiles a lot of data for reports, and has various other administrative duties.  She also stands watch at the data acquisition desk and serves as a substitute when needed.  If you need assistance with trouble shooting technical problems or answers to questions regarding hydrographic data, Erin is your go to person!  She is very knowledgeable, competent, and approachable.

How long have you been with NOAA?  Please explain your school and career path.  Erin went to college at Coastal Carolina University and majored in marine science.  Her major included classes in marine chemistry, geology, physical oceanography, physical geography, and biology.  After graduation, she was unable to secure employment in the field of marine science, so she entered the field of veterinarian medicine.  She worked as the customer service supervisor of a veterinarian hospital for 5 years.  The dream of working in marine science was ever present, so she went back to school at the local community college to obtain a degree in marine technology after which she got a job with NOAA.  She has worked as a hydrographic scientist for four years.

What do you do when you are off the ship?  Do you have any hobbies?  Erin enjoys scuba diving (in fact, she is an instructor) and enjoys traveling.

You are a role model for others when it comes to following your dream.  Thank you, Erin, for your expertise, attention to detail, and service to NOAA. 

Literary Connection

Earlier this summer, I read The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw.  I came across a real-life reason for hydrographic surveys!  Read this account of an early 1900s shipwreck off the coast of Maine.

“Soon they were in the midst of a howling northeaster, and a blinding snow squall.  It was then that the captain decided, for the safety of his crew and vessel, which were both being wracked by the storm, to try to find safe harbor, a lee from the seas that threatened to pound men and boat to pieces.  The southwestern and leeward shore of this mountainous island would have been the ideal place to anchor and wait out the gale, if it hadn’t been for the ledges that peppered the area.  From Western Ear to Trail Point, vicious ledges lay just beneath the surface, while other boldly poke their heads above.  These remote outcroppings of rocky peaks are surrounded by deceivingly deep water; some rocks are as far as a mile from the coast.  The men, convinced that they were doomed if they remained at sea, took their chances at navigating the treacherous gauntlet.”

If only the captain had had access to a NOAA hydrographic survey of the area!  He could have navigated the island safely and all souls aboard would have been saved!  (Spoiler alert: they all swam to shore safely although they almost froze to death in the frigid waters!)

There are LOTS of books about adventures at sea at your local public library!  One of my favorites is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.  Check it out!

For the little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey today?  Hint: It is important to visit this room to keep your clothes fresh and clean.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a grated metal surface
Oh, no! Dewey it might be dangerous to stay in there!

A: Dewey is in the laundry room.  There are two washers and dryers available to the crew . . . soap and fabric softener are provided.  We are asked to only wash full loads and not to use the washer when we are in heavy seas (periods of time when the waves are big).

LAUNDRY 3-22-2
Sign on the Laundry Room door
Dewey the beanie monkey sits in a dryer
Dewey in the dryer
view of two washing machines labeled Washer #2 and Washer #1
I hope Dewey doesn’t go exploring and end up in the washing machine!

Personal Log

One of the questions I have received from my family is, “What is your day like?  How do you spend your time?”  Well, each day, we receive a Plan of the Day (POD) from the Operations Officer (OPS).  It is a schedule of what is happening on ship that day.  It also assigns you your watch or duties.  I use this information to plan my personal schedule.  A typical day for me might look like the following (I will be stating times using a 24-hour clock):

0510 – Rise and Shine

0530 – Report to my watch as a Hydrographer in Charge in Training (HIC-IT) at the Acquisition Station in the Plot Room

0730 – my watch is over, and it is time for breakfast

0800 through 1130 – I usually work on my blog post, interview crew members, hang out on the Bridge, do whatever it takes to learn about all aspects of living and working on Thomas Jefferson.  There are often meetings scheduled for the morning that I am not expected to attend.

1130 – Lunch

1200 through 1630 – I attend various safety training sessions, observe what others are doing on the ship (like yesterday when I watched the Ensigns training in the Fast Rescue Boat), safety drills, work on blog posts, etc.  This is also the time when I work out in the Exercise Room, take a shower, and/or do laundry.

1630 – Dinner

1700-1930 – Continue the work that was started earlier in the day, read, play a card game, enjoy looking out at the lake, or sometimes we have a “Morale Event” like BINGO or a movie.  If we have good cell phone coverage, I call my family.

1930 – Bedtime!

It is a full day!  Everyday is different, and you can be sure I am learning tons and making friends.  To be honest, sometimes I forget that I am on a ship, especially when the waves are small.

Ship Joke of the Day

Q: What do you call a boat owned by a bunch of football players?

A: Sportsman-ship!

Laura Grimm: Who are these people in uniform? July 13, 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 13, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42 10.30’ N

Longitude: 080 17.60’ W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 6.1 knots

Wind Direction: 288 W

Lake Temperature: 22.0 C

Wave Height: 1 foot

Dry Bulb: 21.1 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 17.7 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 75%

Electronic nautical chart showing many folding-over parallel lines marking the back and forth track of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson off Presque Isle
We are making great progress! This is 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

Seeing several people aboard in uniform caused me to ask, “Is NOAA part of the military?”

illustration of the NOAA Corps insignia; an eagle stands on a globe with two ship anchors crossed behind it. the eagle has a shield with blue stars and red and white stripes. it reads: NOAA COMMISSIONED CORPS 1917
NOAA Commissioned Corps Insignia

According to the NOAA Corps website, “The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps) is one of the nation’s eight uniformed services. NOAA Corps officers are an integral part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and serve with the special trust and confidence of the President.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known as the NOAA Corps, is one of just two uniformed services with no enlisted or warrant officers. The Corps is made up of engineers, oceanographers, geologists, and meteorologists (among others) who support federal departments in earth science projects. The officers operate NOAA’s ships, fly aircraft, manage research projects, conduct diving operations, and serve in staff positions throughout NOAA. Prior to going out to sea, NOAA Corps officers attend 18 weeks of training at the US Coast Guard Academy’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) in New London, CT. They are not always out to sea; NOAA Corps officers who work on ships rotate between driving the ship for two years and supporting science missions ashore for three years. NOAA Corps officers enable NOAA to fulfill mission requirements, meet changing environmental concerns, take advantage of emerging technologies, and serve as environmental first responders. 

The history of the NOAA Corps can be traced back to 1807 when Thomas Jefferson signed a bill establishing the “Survey of the Coast,” which charted the country’s coasts and waterways. Their mission has expanded well beyond coastal mapping. It currently has 320+ officers who oversee more than a dozen ships and nine specialized aircraft, including the Hurricane Hunters.

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, ~ 30% or 10 out of 34 souls aboard are part of the NOAA Corps. The positions of Commanding Officer (CO), Executive Officer (XO), Operations Officer (OPS), and Operations Officer in Training (OPS IT) are all filled with members of the NOAA Corps. The OPS is also called a Field Operations Officer (FOO). (OPS = FOO) The Medical Officer (MO) is often an ensign, however, on TJ, our MO is a professional mariner. All officers are trained to be an Officer of the Deck (OOD); prior to qualification they serve as a Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD). These are the people who drive, or are learning to drive, the ship. Other duties the Junior Officers serve are Navigation Officer (Nav-O), Damage Control Officer (DCO), and the Environmental Compliance Officer (ECO).

TJ serves as a training ground for Ensigns. These are people new to the Corps. Some have attended maritime academies, or been in prior service, such as the U.S. Navy. However, their prior experience must include a baccalaureate degree, and completion of at least 48 semester hours in science, technology, math, or engineering course work pertaining to NOAA’s missions. They become ensigns after graduation from OCS, also known as NOAA’s Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC). You see them all over the ship. They are eager to learn and seem to train or study non-stop! No wonder! There is so much to learn. Ensigns fill many “collateral positions” such as Medical Officer (MO) and Damage Control Officer (DCO). The DCO are on the fire and emergency squad.

ensigns pose casually for a photo on an upper deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. they are all wearing the Corps-issued navy pants or shorts, and NOAA Corps t-shirts.
Currently, there are five NOAA Corps Ensigns on Thomas Jefferson.  From left to right are ENS Geiger, ENS Brostowski, ENS Castillo, ENS Foxen, and ENS Meadows. They are all very fun-loving, dedicated, knowledgeable, and eager to learn.

The maritime academies in the United States are listed below.  Click on the links below if you wish to learn more about any of these institutions.

College Degree granting institutions offering maritime degrees and USCG-approved courses include:

I wish I had known about the NOAA Corps when I was making career decisions.  It has the discipline and culture of the armed services, yet it is focused on the sciences.  The upper age limit to enter the Corps is 42 years old.  I guess at this point, I can only encourage others to consider the NOAA Corps as a career option.  😊

Click here &/or watch the following video for more information about the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

NOAA Corps Recruiting Video

Personal Log

I have been asked to give a presentation to the crew about the Dalton Local School’s STEAM program.  They also would like to know possible lesson ideas I will develop in the future and “takeaways” from the Teacher at Sea experience.

The following is a slide show of my presentation.

  • title slide reads: NOAA Teacher at Sea: Laura Grimm, Dalton Local School District, Dalton, Ohio
  • slide reads: Kindergarteen through 8th grade STEAM. photos: students beneath the sign to Dalton Local Elementary & Middle School, and a bulldog.
  • slide reads: 8th grade - Robotics & 3D printing. images of a robot, 3-d printed objects.
  • slide reads: 7th grade - Energy and Inventions. photos of a Maker Space toolbox, students building things.
  • slide reads: 6th Grade - Greenhouse & Life Cycles. photos of students in a vegetable garden, illustrations of flowers, chicks, fish fry.
  • slide reads: 5th Grade - Plan a Trip to Mars: - Getting to Mars - Entering the Atmosphere - Landing - Roving - Building a Satellite - Colonizing the Surface - Mission Patch. photos.
  • slide reads: Kindergarten through 4th Grade Support Science Curricula with STEAM Activities. photos of students.
  • "You learn if you want to, so you've got to want to learn." - Katherine Johnson
  • photo of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson in front of Statue of Liberty. NOAA logo.
  • Possible Future MIddle School Lessons: Design, build & program robotic davits with sensors and articulated arms, How far can you see the horizon? etc.
  • Possible Future Elementary School Lessons: program Bee Bot robots to pick up holidays, finding the shortest distance between holidays, etc.
  • Take Aways... New knowledge of science and technology, How this science and tech interfaces with real-life situations, respect for all who work/live on ship, etc.
  • Thank you for this awesome opportunity! photo of crewmembers presenting Laura the flag, Thank You graphic

Human Interest Poll (HIP)

Recently, I started a Human-Interest Poll (HIP) where I post a question on the bulletin board outside of the lounge and give the crew 2-3 days to respond.  The latest question was, “Where was the coolest place you have gone on a ship?”  See their responses below.

outline of the world continents with the letters A-M imposed on the locations listed below. Caption: Where was the coolest place you have gone on a ship?
Results of Human-Interest Poll. It is so HIP!

A = The Channel Islands    

B = San Juan Islands                                       

C = Japan

D = Guam                                                           

E = Norfolk, VA (Home)                                

F = Bering Sea in Winter

G = Point Hope, AK                                         

H = Panama Canal                           

I = Little Diomede Island, AK

J = St. Lawrence Seaway                               

K = Bali                                                                 

L = Adak, AK

M = The Equator                                              

N = Ocean View, DE

Stay tuned!  The next HIP is, “What were the highest seas you have ever experienced?  Where?”

For the little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey today?  Hint: Athletes like to use this room.

Dewey the beanie monkey hangs from exercise equipment
Dewey likes to move around, stretch and strengthen his muscles.  After All, he is a monkey.

A: Dewey is in the Exercise Room.  This room is in the bottom floor of the ship.  I heard that it is one of the best exercise rooms in the NOAA fleet of ships!  Even though this is a large ship, you really do not get many “steps” each day.  Exercising is part of staying healthy.  I try to work out each day.  It is an interesting experience to use the treadmill when we are experiencing 4–6-foot waves!

  • room nameplate: Exercise Room 3-22-0
  • Dewey is hanging from a piece of exercise equipment.
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a barbel
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a barbel (wider view)
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a control panel
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on the control panel of the treadmill (wider view)
  • exercise bike and elliptical trainer
  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a rack of hand weights
  • flag of the Thomas Jefferson exercise room. THOMAS JEFFERSON, illustration of eagle lifting weights, S-222

Joke of the Day

Q: Where do ghosts go to sail?

A Lake Eerie!

Laura shows off her NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson sweatshirt (and NOAA Teacher at Sea hat)
I am one very happy NOAA Teacher at Sea!

I am enjoying sharing my NOAA Teacher at Sea experience with you.  I am looking forward to sharing it with my K-8 STEAM students in the fall!

Laura Grimm: How Do We Communicate?, July 12, 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 12, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42 11.79’ N

Longitude: 080 07.79’ W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 13.9knots

Wind Direction: 245ᵒ E

Lake Temperature: 22.3 ᵒC

Wave Height:  2-4 ft. ***

Dry Bulb:  24.3 C

Wet Bulb:  22.1 C

Relative Humidity: 84 %

(*** As the wave height increases, going up or down stairs is a lot like being on a roller coaster. As the ship moves up on a wave, you feel somewhat weightless. As the ship moves down, the G-forces (gravity) make you feel “heavy”. It is fun – until you run into the wall!)

Science and Technology Log

Standing on the bridge, one hears a lot of radio communication between boats and occasionally the Coast Guard.  The bridge also communicates frequently with the survey technicians via an intercom.  

This made me start to wonder about how the ship communicates in other ways.  Let me tell you, there are many other ways for the ship to communicate other than radio.  One way is via Morse code.   According to Kiddle Encyclopedia, “Morse code is a type of code that is used to send telegraphic information using rhythm. Morse code uses dots and dashes to show the alphabet letters, numbers, punctuation and special characters of a given message. When messages are sent audibly (with sound) by Morse code, dots are short beeps or clicks, and dashes are longer ones.”

Morse code is named after Samuel Morse, who helped invent it. It is not used as much today as it was in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Some people still use Morse code to communicate on amateur radio.  I have a friend who is an amateur radio operator.  He communicates with people all over the world using Morse Code.  (He even signs birthday cards in Code!)  In Girl Scouts, we were encouraged to learn Morse code.  All I remember is the distress code: SOS (. . . – – – . . .). 

International Morse Code chart of letters and numbers

Another way the ship can communicate is with a signal light.  The operator opens and closes louvers in front of the light using the same Morse code dot & dash patterns.

a NOAA Corps Officer closes blinds over a large circular light on a rotating stand
Morse code is still used on ships using lights.

Messages can be relayed via the ship’s horn.  I discussed in a previous post the ship’s alarm signals that indicate a fire or other emergency, man overboard, or abandon ship. However, the ship also has bells and whistles (different types of horns) that can be used for additional communication; these broadcast a message to a wider audience.  There are rules that regulate horn usage in inland and international waters.  These signals can communicate navigation or emergency information – and so much more.

Example: two prolonged blasts followed by one short blast = “I intend to overtake you on your starboard side”

If you are in distress, other ways to communicate include lights; a rocket parachute flare or a hand flare showing a red light; guns or other explosive devises; flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.); a smoke signal giving off orange-colored smoke; slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side; etc.

Flags are also used to communicate with other ships or people ashore.  They consist of flags and pennants of varying colors, shapes, and markings. The flags have independent meanings; however, when used together they can spell out words and communicate complex messages.  The book International Code of Signals lists literally hundreds of 1-3 flag combinations that mean everything from describing medical conditions of crew members to issues regarding safe maritime travel.  The International Code Signal of distress is indicated by the flags that represent the letter “N” followed by the letter “C”.

two flags representing the letters "N" and "C." The "N" flag is checkered with navy and white squares. the "C" flag has five horizontal stripes: navy, white, red, white, navy.
N C = International Code Signal of Distress
a chart of flags (representing letters) and pennants (representing numerals)
International Flags and Pennants sometimes referred to as the Nautical Alphabet.

Something else you should know about communicating on a ship (or as an airplane pilot), each letter is represented by a word.  A = Alfa, B = Bravo, C = Charlie, D = Delta, etc.  To learn more, see the International Flags and Pennants illustration above.

For the little Dawgs . . . (and older)

Q: Where is Dewey today?  Hint: People on the ship use these to communicate.

Dewey the beanie monkey is tucked into a cubby storing flags and penants (close-up)
I’m not sure where you are, Dewey!  But it looks like you have found a very colorful playground.

A: Dewey is in the signal flag storage area.

Dewey the beanie monkey is tucked into a cubby storing flags and penants (wide view)
Signal flag storage area

The radio call sign of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is WTEA (Whiskey Tango Echo Alfa).  Do you see the flags flying from our mast in the pictures below?  The triangle pennant above the flags that indicate our radio call sign is called our commissioning pennant- indicating a government vessel (NOAA ship) in commission.  The triangles on this pennant symbolize a concept in navigation called triangulation.  According to Wikipedia, “triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by forming triangles to the point from known points”.  It is a perfect pennant for a hydrographic vessel.

on the tower of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, we can see four rectangular flags (corresponding to the call sign, WTEA) and one skinny commissioning pennant
Radio call signs for NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson WTEA (Whiskey Tango Echo Alfa)
four rectangular flags (corresponding to the call sign, WTEA) and one skinny commissioning pennant
Radio Call Sign Flags

Students, I challenge you draw out your name using International Flags.

image of five letter flags in a row
These flags spell out, “GRIMM” (Golf, Romeo, India, Mike, Mike)
image of six letter flags in a row
These flags spell out, “DALTON” (Delta, Alfa, Lima, Tango, Oscar, November)

Click on this link and/or watch the video below for more information about International Flags and Pennants.

International Code of Signal Flags

Ship Joke of the Day 

How do boats say hello to one another?  (They wave!) . . . Or, do they wave their flags?

Personal Log

Speaking of flags, I had very meaningful thing happened today.  I was just hanging out in the bridge.  I like to see how they navigate and steer the ship.  (It is also a great place to bird watch.)  Operations Officer, LT Levano, asked me if I would like to have a flag that flew over the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.  Whenever a flag becomes a bit tattered or torn, they take it down and replace it with a new one.  They usually give the old flag to the Boy Scouts of America for disposal.  This time, however, they gave it to me!  It brought me to tears.  It was a very special moment for me as a Teacher at Sea.

Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Kinnett and ENS Brostowski folded the flag and made the formal presentation.

  • two crewmembers hold an old American flag out by its corners to prepare for folding
  • two crewmembers folding the flag lengthwise
  • one crewmember holds a folded edge while the other folds his side over in right triangles
  • crewmembers folding a flag
  • crewmembers stand holding the old American flag as a folded triangle

Previews of coming attractions:

  • Tonight, is movie night in the lounge.  Word has it that the featured film will be Monty Python and the Holy Grail!  Woo Hoo!  That is one of my favorites! 
  • Also, the Plan of the Day (POD) for tomorrow states that the crew will be deploying and recovering the Fast Rescue Boat (FRB).  Sounds like fun!
  • I will share the results from the first Human-Interest Poll (HIP) of the crew.

Laura Grimm: Most Valuable Player? July 9, 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 9, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge 

Latitude: 42ᵒ 08’3N

Longitude: 080 16’2W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Wind Speed: 23.0 knots

Wind Direction: 030 NNE

Lake Temperature: 21.4 C

Wave Height: 4 -6 feet

Dry Bulb: 19.7 C

Wet Bulb: 16.6 C

Calculated Relative Humidity: 74%

Visibility: 10+ miles

screenshot of software displaying a nautical chart and many parallel colored lines
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

As explained in a previous blog, hydrographic survey uses sound energy.  NOAA hydrographers use various tools to measure the speed of sound from the time it is sent out to the time it is received as an echo.  Sound waves traveling through water of different density cause refraction (or bending) of the energy wave.  The density of water is affected by the salinity, temperature, and depth of the water. Scientists need to measure these parameters (things) and then use this knowledge to correct the data depending upon the properties of the water the sound is traveling through. (If you have been following this blog, nothing so far is new.

Today’s question is how is the temperature and salinity of a column of water measured?  Hydrographers use different types of tools to measure the temperature, salinity, and water depth.  As a group, these tools are called “sound velocity profilers”.  A conductivity, temperature, and depth sensor (CTD) can measure these three things in a column of water and then it calculates the speed of sound in water using a formula called the Chen-Millero equation.  (I do not claim at all to understand this equation!)

To make matters more interesting, there are two (I’m sure there are more than two, however, to simplify things, we will assume that there are only two) types of CTDs.  One type is sent overboard when the ship is not moving.  The other type can be used when the ship is moving.  Using a CTD while the ship is moving is a great thing, because to get good data, CTD data must be taken frequently (every 1-4 hours) and this big ship is difficult to stop!

a digital illustration of an award ribbon reading "MVP"
Most Valuable Player Award

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has both types of CTD sensors.  They rely heavily on the type that can be used when the ship is moving.  In fact, it is so important that we call it our MVP.  This does not stand for Most Valuable Player – although it is extremely important!  A moving vessel profiler (MVP) can be used to measure the water column when the ship is moving at regular survey speeds (8-10 knots).  It kind of looks like a torpedo.  The MVP system can be set up to drop to a given depth determined by the hydrographers in charge of the project – not to shallow & not too deep . . . just right. 

a moving vessel profiler sitting on deck of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. It looks like a small torpedo standing on end. A life preserver ring is mounted on the rail in the background.
Moving Vessel Profiler (MVP) utilized by NOAA field units.
close-up of a label on the moving vessel profiler control station, which reads: AML Oceanographic, www.AMLoceanographic.com, +1 250 656 0771, MVP Moving Vessel Profiler
Here is the information should you want to order a MVP.   :o)
a control panel for the moving vessel profiler: we see buttons, knobs, what looks like a joystick
After the MVP is put in the water, it can deployed and controlled with a computer in the Plot Room.
a crane lowers the moving vessel profiler into the water
The MVP is placed overboard and into the water using a crane.

It can be controlled remotely with a computer without needing someone to be on deck.  Deploying the MVP is called a “cast”.  The benefit of deploying a sound speed profiler like the MVP while the ship is moving is significant.  It is a real time-saver!  Surveyors do not need to stop the ship at regular intervals – this makes their time at sea much more efficient.

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to deploy the MVP.  From the acquisition desk in the plot room, one first needs to get permission from the bridge (the “upstairs office” filled with people driving and navigating the ship), to take a “cast”.  The conversation over the intercom goes something like this:

Laura: “Bridge, this is Survey.”

Bridge: “Go ahead Survey.” 

Laura: “May I please take an MVP cast?”

Bridge: (If the area is clear of small boats and obstructions, they will respond,) “Go ahead Survey.”

Laura: (Once permission is granted, all you need to do is to push the “start” button.  A lot of cable attached to the MVP automatically pays out and it drops to a set depth, a few meters above the bottom.  Once this started to happen, I informed the Bridge by saying,) “Fish is away.” 

Bridge: “Copy.”

Laura: (After reaching the designated depth, the cable drum turns quickly in reverse and hauls the MVP back up to near the surface.  I finished by saying,) “Cast complete”. 

I was a bit nervous talking to the bridge, but I think I did okay.

screenshot of a computer screen with readout from the moving vessel profiler, including a graph showing the depth over time
This is the computer that controls the MVP.  The Hydrographer In Charge (HIC) does this from the acquisition desk in the Plot Room.  The blue line above shows the movement of the MVP and its location in the water column.  It was sent down to 1.5 meters above the floor of the lake.

Meet the Crew

Sydney peers into a compass mounted on a post on deck
Sydney Catoire is using a gyro compass to get a visual reading on a prominent antenna near Erie, PA.

Sydney Catoire is a Lieutenant in the NOAA Corps. (More about the NOAA Corps in a future blog post.) She is an Operations Officer in Training (OPS IT). Sydney comes from a Navy family and grew up on Virginia Beach, VA. Ms. Catoire studied marine biology and mathematics at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Wanting to combine aspects of the Navy as well as work as a scientist led her to apply to the NOAA Corps. She received her Master of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences (GIS) while working for the Office of Coast Survey.

Why is your work important? The safety of navigation is our primary goal as hydrographers. We use the data to update nautical charts to make it safe to sail. The bathymetric products provided are open source (free for anyone to download and use) and are used for ocean and lake bed mapping. For example, the data can be used for tsunami storm surge modeling, coastal erosion, and habitat mapping. All this data is super critical and is used by a wide variety of scientific organizations and research institutions.

How will your job change once you become an Operations Officer (OPS)? She will still be involved with the day-to-day workings of the hydrographic survey, however, once she becomes an OPS, she will take a leadership role in the survey, assigning sheets (areas to survey), and mentoring sheet managers who develop the line plans (the path that the ship travels to complete the survey). In other words, she will decide on the most efficient methods to “mow the lawn.” She will also help to train junior officers, organize the processing of the data, and work directly with the Office of Coast Survey Hydrographic Division.

What is the thing about your job you like the most? She likes being on the bridge, navigating and driving the ship, as well as looking out the window for marine life – which lately has been very limited since we are sailing on the Great Lakes.

Tell us a few things about yourself outside of being an OPS IT. Sydney and her sister have a dog named, Max. She likes to scuba dive, hike, and hang out with her family and nephews when she is on shore.

Good Luck, Sydney as you strive to become an Operations Officer! For not originally knowing about this career path you sure have excelled and are an example for others with similar interests.

Personal Log

All the people on TJ have been very nice and hospitable.  They freely answer my questions and are fun to hang out with during meals.  There are three people, however, who are super important to the smooth sailing of TJ.  They are the stewards, Ace & Brent and the Chief Steward, Miss Parker.  I never imagined that the food would be so varied and tasty!  A well-fed crew = a happy crew!

Menu for Monday 5 July 2022: Breakfast: Egg to Order, etc. Lunch: Chicken Cordon Blue, Soft Shell Crab Portabella Mushroom, etc. Dinner: Prime Rib w / Au Jus, Baked salmon w/ brown sugar glaze, fried tofu, etc.
Each day the menu is posted outside of the galley.  Just look at Tuesday’s offerings!
plate of food and place settings
Roasted duck, grilled vegetables, and wild rice.  Just a normal meal on the TJ.
cake
Beautifully decorated three-layer cake with strawberry icing and filling.
three stewards stand in the galley behind a serving line. Ms. Parker and Ace wear aprons.
The Heroes of the Galley (from left to right): Brent, Miss Parker, and Ace.

For the little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey today?  Hint: it is the back of the ship.

Dewey the beanie monkey perches on a rail of some sort, with a pole behind him, and the wake of the ship visible in the water
Be careful, Dewey!  We don’t want you to fall into the water!

A: Dewey is sitting on the stern of the ship.  The propellers are under the stern.

Dewey the beanie monkey sits on the rail on the ship's stern, and the wake of the ship is visible behind
Dewey is sitting on the stern of the ship.  “Stern” rhymes with “learn”.  We are learning the different parts of the ship.

Well, that’s all for today.  Spending time aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has been a terrific learning experience.  I am so thankful for the opportunity!

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