Sandra Camp: Safety First, June 15, 2015

USS Utah

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Sandra Camp
Aboard NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
June 14 – 24, 2015

Mission: Main Hawaiian Islands Reef Fish Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Hawaiian Islands, North Pacific Ocean
Date: June 15, 2015

Weather Data from the Bridge: partly cloudy, scattered showers, visibility > 7 NM (nautical miles), winds east 10-15 KT (knots), temperature 78° F

Science and Technology Log

We often talk about safety during science class: how to properly handle tools, materials, and equipment, how to work cooperatively with other people, and how to protect ourselves from accidents. Just like safety is very important during science class, it is essential when doing science anywhere else in the world. In my first day aboard the Hi’ialakai, I have discovered that NOAA ships take safety very seriously. Because the scientific mission of this cruise primarily involves diving, safety is extra important because there are many ways divers’ lives can be at risk. All safety procedures have to be thoroughly reviewed before any diving is allowed to happen. We started the morning of my first day aboard ship by rotating through three different safety stations. Here is what we learned at each station:

Back-boarding in action

Gear Check: Katie Mahaffey, the ship’s Program Support Specialist and dive master, inspected everyone’s diving gear to make sure that it operates correctly. If any equipment is malfunctioning, it can cause serious problems for a diver. She also showed everyone where to store their diving gear. Although I will not be diving, I was given a locker to store my snorkeling gear, my life jacket, and my hard hat (life jackets and hard hats are two very important pieces of safety equipment on ships).

O2 and Back-boarding: At this station, we learned what to do in case there is some kind of accident in the water and a diver becomes injured. We were trained on how to administer oxygen from a tank of emergency O2 and on how to strap an injured diver onto a backboard for safe transport. Both of these items are carried on the small boats that take divers out each day in case of an emergency.

DEAP and EPIRB: DEAP stands for Diving Emergency Action Plan. Each team of divers is supposed to know and follow NOAA’s plan for emergencies while diving. An EPIRB is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. It is a handy device that can send out a signal that can be used to help locate a diver’s position in the water in case she/he becomes separated from the boat.

emergency billet
My Emergency Billet

That was not the end of the safety training! We also practiced some emergency drills. Just like we have fire and earthquake drills at school, ships have emergency drills they practice so everyone can react quickly in the event of an emergency. Each type of emergency on a ship is indicated with a different signal on the ship’s horn. This information is located on each person’s emergency billet. Here is a picture of mine:

In the comments section below, I would like you to write what the signal is for abandon ship!


immersion suit
Here I am in my immersion suit.

Today, we went through a fire drill and an abandon ship drill. As you can see on my billet, in the case that we have to abandon ship, I have to muster (gather together with others) by life raft 1 on deck 03. When you abandon ship, you not only have to muster at your designated spot so that the ship’s crew can account for everyone, you also have to put on an immersion suit. This suit is designed to protect you in case you have to be in water a long time, and it makes you look like a red Gumby.

Personal Log

Diamond Head
The view from the top of Diamond Head is amazing.

Before I boarded the Hi’ialakai in Pearl Harbor, I got to have a few adventures on Oahu.  First, I hiked from my hotel in Waikiki to the top of Diamond Head.  Diamond Head is the crater of an extinct volcano, and there is a fantastic view of Honolulu and the coastline from the top.  It was a long, hot, and sweaty uphill hike, but at the end of it, I ran into one of my lovely students who is vacationing with her family in Hawaii, and went swimming with her at her hotel’s pool.  Hello, Emogene!

Emogene and Ms. Camp after going down the water slide
Princess of Kauai
The Princess of Kauai

It was also a state holiday while I was there, King Kamehameha Day, which honors Kamehameha the Great, the king who first established the unified kingdom of Hawaii. There was a parade that day to celebrate. Here is a picture of the Princess of Kauai from the parade.

Before the ship left dock, I also had a little time to look around Pear Harbor. Joanna correctly wrote that Pearl Harbor is famous because the Japanese attacked it, which ultimately caused the United States to become involved in World War II. It was a very sad and tragic moment in our history, and there are several memorials to the lives that were lost on the sunken ships around the harbor. Here is a picture of the USS Utah sunken ship and memorial, which is close to where the Hi’ialakai is docked:

USS Utah
Here is a photo of the shipwreck of the USS Utah, as I promised to Joanna.

Soon after I came aboard, I had to get to know my way around the ship and learn some important words that indicate location on a ship. These words are used on all ships, no matter what their affiliation.

The Hi’ialakai at dock on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor

port: the left side of a ship

starboard: the right side of a ship

bow: the front of a ship

stern: the back of a ship

forward: toward the front, or bow, of a ship

aft: toward the back, or stern of a ship

galley: ship’s kitchen

mess: dining area

stateroom: the room where you sleep

head: the bathroom

Thankfully, I have not suffered from any sea-sickness, but it has been a challenge trying to walk in a straight line!

Did You Know?

The word SCUBA in scuba diving stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Most divers use an open-circuit scuba, where the diver’s exhaled carbon dioxide is vented into the water in the form of bubbles (like when you blow out from your nose under water in a pool). Scientists are concerned that these bubbles may scare away the fish they are trying to study and count while they are under water, so on this trip, some divers will be trying out rebreathers. Rebreathers are designed so that when a diver exhales, the gas is circulated back into the apparatus instead of being exhaled into the water. No bubbles!

Important Words

billet – the place you are assigned to stay on a ship, like a bunk

muster – to assemble or gather for inspection

immersion – under water

The answer to the previous poll was:  Corals get their various colors from the algae that live inside them.

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 6, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Jones
January 4 – 22, 2010

Mission: Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 6, 2010

Science Log

The KA is under her own steam, well actually diesel and electric, and we are making 10 knots (you should figure out how fast that is in miles per hour) at a heading of 173 degrees. The KA uses diesel generators to create the current to drive here electric propulsion motors. She is a vey quit ship because of this configuration which was part of her original deign…to be quite. The KA is a former Navy antisubmarine warfare ship and needed to be quiet to play her role listening for submarines that might have been lurking around the oceans. Now that quiet nature makes it nice for those of us about to have our first night at sea.

Our current position was 157degrees 51 minutes and 7 seconds west longitude (157:51:07 W) and 22 degrees 55 minutes and 8 seconds north latitude (22:55:09N) at 19:30 lcl on the 5th of January. At that time we had been at sea for about five hours and have many more to go on our way to work the 155 W Buoy line. Sunset was fantastic, but very short. It seems to take almost no time to go from day to night here in the tropics. You can see how it looks behind some of the “birds” (anemometers) that will measure windspeed and direction on the buoys. We are now (09:10 lcl) about 40 nautical miles south of the Big Island and can just see it in the distance. It will be some time before we see land again.

Since we are running a little slow on the internet I will simply post a few images from our first day rather than a video. I will attempt to post a video or two later on but currently we are limited on our bandwidth to about 128K.

For two days I have been overwhelmed as I observed all of the aspects of the crew’s preparation for the TAO mission to Samoa. I am fascinated with everything about this operation – watching the crew load the ship, observing the ship being fueled, viewing the massive nuclear submarines located in Pearl Harbor, and assembling the sensors that collect climate data from each of the buoys we will deploy. Yesterday, in preparation for our voyage, we continued to calibrate instruments and assemble sensors.Last night was our first night at sea, I slept like a baby -the gentle rocking of the boat was like being in a giant cradle.

Richard Jones & Art Bangert, January 5, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Richard Jones
January 4 – 22, 2010

Mission: Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: January 5, 2010

Science Log

The ship has been in port at Pearl Harbor most of the day. We got underway about ten to ten this morning to transit to the fuel pier. We have been loading fuel and getting the various instruments ready for deployment. One of the more memorable things for me was passing by the USS Arizona Memorial and thinking about all the history that has gone on here. It makes one pause and think of the value of our freedom and the price paid for that freedom.

One of the more mundane, but important tasks today has been to check all the sensors and to make sure that the electrical connections are all correct. I even had the opportunity to crawl under the test bench to make sure the connections for the long wave and short wave UV sensors were connected to the correct test leads.

Kazu Kauinana, May 20, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 20, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  24, 12.5 N
Longitude: 166, 50.6 W
Visibility:  10 Nm
Wind direction:  95
Wind speed:  25 Kts
Sea wave height: 3-4
Sea swell height:  5-7
Seawater temperature: 25.0
Sea level pressure: 1022.2
Cloud cover: 1/8 cumulus, cirrus

Science and Technology Log 

This morning I spoke with the Lead Electrical Technician John Skinner.  He has been following the progress of the bust I am creating of Lead scientist, Chad Yoshinaga.  He told me that he liked the sculpture and that it has been great having an art teacher at sea this time around.  Apparently I am the first, and the perspective I have given has been interesting and different from the science teachers.

He is also the computer guy for the ship and he spends his spare time taking digital photos and putting together slide shows.  Anyway, he asked me if I would like to see it, and of course I said yes. It was awesome!  It was pictures that he and others had taken on many of the various trips out to the Hawaiian Archipelago.  It includes pictures of the voyage I am on, only much better.  He gave me a copy and I can’t wait to show you guys this DVD. It will blow you away! He also told me about a book called Archipelago that has fantastic photos of these atolls.

The rest of the day I worked on my sculpture and watched the fishermen.  They caught Bull Dorado (mahi-mahi), Ahi and Uku.  BeegBahgahs!!!

Kazu Kauinana, May 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 18, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  27, 02.0 N
Longitude: 173, 54.3 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Wind direction:  160
Wind speed:  16 Kts
Sea wave heights: 3-4
Sea swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 23.1
Sea level pressure: 1019
Cloud cover: 8/8 cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we are off loading three scientists and their gear onto Southeast Island in Pearl and Hermes Atoll.  “The atoll derives its name from those of two English whaling vessels, the ‘Pearl’ and the ‘Hermes,’ which ran aground at nearly the same time on the then unknown reef during the night of 25 April 1822. No lives were lost and provisions and timber were salvaged and used to sustain the crews for two months during which they built a schooner from the salvaged timbers.  Shortly before the crews were ready to launch their new schooner, named the ‘Deliverance,’ another ship—the ‘Thames’—was saved from disaster on the reef.  Captain Phillips of the ‘Hermes’ was able to warn her  captain in time.  While most of the two crews were safely taken off the reef by the ‘Thames,’ 12 elected to sail the ‘Deliverance’ into Honolulu” (Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society Library, Missionary Letters; Bryan, 1942: 197).

All of these atolls are filled with a history of shipwrecks and survivors who salvaged their food supplies, water, tools, and building materials from their grounded ships; lived on these tiny uninhabited islands for as long as six months; and built a boat and sailed back to the high islands. I just spent two days helping unload provisions for seven people to last six months on the island of Kure.  If you’ve never really looked at a map and seen just how isolated these atolls are, do it, and you may be surprised.

And just what were all these sailors doing up around these parts?  Well here’s a good example:

“During the off season of sea otter hunting, the Japanese schooner ‘Ada’ was chartered by an American, George Mansfield, and his friends.  They sailed from Yokohama, Japan, on 10 December 1881, bound first for the Bonin Islands and thence to the Northwestern Hawaiians hoping for a cargo of fish, shark, turtle and beche-de-mer.  On 19 January 1882 the ‘Ada’, commanded by Harry Hardy, anchored off Pearl and Hermes Reef and in the next two days her crew of 17 killed 28 turtles and collected 54 beche-de-mer and 43 pounds of albatross down.  The down was obtained by killing the chicks, dipping them in boiling water, and then stripping off the feathers; petrels, boobies, and frigates were treated in like fashion. The ‘Ada’ visited the remaining islands down to French Frigate Shoals and stopped a second time at Midway in May 1882 to reprovision before returning to Japan” (Hornell, 1934: 426-432).

Yes, I eat fish and chicken, and I even owned a down jacket when I lived in New York City.  I guess I’ve got to be more careful about where these products are coming from and not support the depletion of an entire species.  Ironically, the species that may be on its way to extinction is us. We really should be paying close attention to what scientists are telling us about what is happening to the planet and all the life that lives on it. We have really made a mess of things, but with education and awareness, there still might be hope for our grandchildren, our children, and, believe it or not, us. We are already being affected by our destructive actions. There is a great article in the April 3, 2006 issue of Time magazine about “global warming,” and evidence that the earth is now at the TIPPING POINT! READ IT!! Am I making you worried? Good. The article is called “Be Worried.  Be Very Worried.”