Dan Steelquist, July 7, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Dan Steelquist
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
July 6 – 24, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Pavlov Islands, Gulf of Alaska
Date: July 7, 2009

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Latitude: 56° 20.76′ N
Longitude: 157°09.52′ W
Visibility: 10+ Nautical Miles
Wind Direction: 220° true
Wind Speed: 14 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2ft.
Swell Waves: 3-5ft.
Water Temperature: 9.4° C
Dry Bulb: 11.7° C
Wet Bulb: 11.1° C
Sea Level Pressure: 1021.0 mb

Science and Technology Log 

The Rainier is a self-contained workstation that has many different types of jobs that need to be done. As I have arrived and settled in, I have tried to learn what jobs people do on board and how their work contributes to mission of the ship.

The workers on the ship are divided into six different departments.

  • The officers oversee the total operation of the ship. They plan the ship’s course and control the ship from the bridge while it is underway.  The officers are also involved in the survey operations
  • The Survey Department gathers and processes hydrographic survey data.
  • The Electronics Department maintains electronic equipment and electrical systems on board the ship.
  • The Stewards keep the crew fed
  • The Deck Department handles all the work on the deck including launching and retrieving the small boats. They also handle the lines when the ship is docking and they operate machinery to raise and lower the anchor
  • The Engineering Department maintains and operates the ship’s engines and generators.

There are many different career opportunities on a ship like the Rainier. Some of the jobs are similar to land based work, yet with a nautical twist. Most of the jobs require some specialized training. All of the jobs appear to be both challenging and rewarding.

Personal Log 

That’s where I’ll be living for the next 3 weeks: NOAA Ship Rainier
That’s where I’ll be living for the next 3 weeks: NOAA Ship Rainier

Wow, what an experience so far. Ship life is so much different than life on land. There is so much to learn and know. There are necessary procedures for every aspect of this world and the crew of the Rainier has been very helpful in making me feel welcome.  Once we left the dock in Seward, the importance of clear procedures became obvious. Moving this much equipment around an ocean with people living and working on board is no small feat. Everyone has very specific jobs to do and time and places they are assigned to work. I have spent much of my time finding my way around the ship and getting to know what types of jobs these people have. The trip from Seward to our work area takes about forty hours. Once there, we will begin the survey work. Our ship has been assigned the task of surveying the seafloor in some areas that have never before been charted. Once we get that work underway, I’ll be able to peer further into the world of a hydrographic survey ship. The adventure goes on…

Something to Think About 
How might the types of work on a ship like the Rainier be similar to and/or different from a closely related job on land?

Eric Heltzel, September 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Eric Heltzel
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 25 – October 22, 2005

TAS Eric on board, Miami in the background
TAS Eric on board, Miami in the background

Mission: Climate Observation and Buoy Deployment
Geographical Area: Caribbean
Date: September 26, 2005

Science and Technology Log 

As I sit to write this entry I realize I’ve been on the ship just over 24 hours.  It’s interesting how perceptions change. I can now find my way to my berth without difficulty. I’ve had three excellent meals and can remember the first names of all the Scientists on the Stratus Project team.  It is odd how I can hear sounds of moving water through my wall, intermittent sloshing.  We are under way now so I can only assume that this noise is normal.  I hope so!

Today was a very busy day. We had a lot of equipment that still needed to be loaded onto the ship and then secured.  They have these really neat threaded holes all over the decks and in the science labs that you can put eye bolts into.  These are attachment points for come-along straps that are used to keep objects from moving around. Much of the equipment was loaded on board with cranes that are mounted on the rear deck. We then use dollies and pallet jacks to move heavy objects around.  There is stuff galore. I helped the Deck-Hands move and secure equipment this morning and helped the Science team to move equipment into the Labs.  It was quite hot and humid and fairly heavy work. I felt good to help get the ship ready to go.

When we were two miles offshore we started doing safety drills.  There are three, man overboard, fire, and abandon ship.  Every person is assigned a mustering station where an officer (in my case, the Lead Scientist) checks to make sure we are all there.  Hopefully we will not have to follow any of these procedures for real. (Sorry kids, I’m really not planning on falling overboard)  There were inspectors checking that we did things correctly. We even had to put on our survival suits to see how they fit. These are a lovely red with built in gloves, booties, and a hood. Very becoming, perhaps a good school uniform?

We finally got under way about 19:00 and are traveling in a southerly direction.  I went on deck to watch the sun go down behind a cumulus cloudbank.  The skyline of Miami was backlit with a rosy glow.  I even saw a Dolphin racing along beside us. It has been a full day and a great start to my adventure on board the RONALD H. BROWN.