NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
June 22 – July 3, 2013
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Mid-Atlantic
Date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Weather Data from Bridge:
Wind Speed: 4.80knots
Surface Water Temperature: 25.35°C
Air Temperature: 26.60°C
Relative Humidity: 81.00%
Barometric Pressure: 1023.19mb
Science and Technology Log
When I began interviewing some of the individuals on board, I knew that I could not talk to all of the 30+ people on board. Here is a snapshot of some of the non-scientific personnel on board, and the important work that they do each day.
David Fare has been working for NOAA for eight years, and you definitely want to stay on his good side. As Chief Steward, Dave is in charge of the most important aspect of life aboard a ship – food! Dave has spent the majority of his life at sea; he worked for the Navy for over 30 years before retiring, and then joined NOAA to get back to sea. As Chief Steward, his major duties include buying food, keeping track of the ship’s food stores, and maintaining a nutritionally balanced menu. The menu he creates is compiled from various recipes, cookbooks, and training he has attended over the years. There are quite a few regulations that he must follow to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have a healthy meal, but he must also go above and beyond to work within the bounds of any dietary restrictions. Dave’s meals must accommodate vegetarians, noted allergies, and low sodium for people with high blood pressure. His major advice for anyone seeking a position in the culinary field is to get experience, and attend a culinary school.
Anthony (Tony) Teele has also been working for NOAA for 8 years, the past five of which have been on the Thomas Jefferson. Tony is both the Medical Person in Charge (MPIC) and a Seaman Surveyor. As the MPIC, Tony has a medical background, specifically in clinical psychology and youth counseling. When I was feeling seasick, Tony was the guy checking my blood pressure and making sure that I kept hydrated. He was required to take a course to make sure he was prepared for general medical needs like basic first aid, CPR, and simple sutures. Tony hopes to use his medical skills in his future career endeavors.
As a Seaman Surveyor, Tony has many other duties. First off he explained how deckhands are ranked from entry level to the top: General Vessel Assistant, Ordinary Seaman, Able-bodied Seaman, Seaman Surveyor, Boatswain Group Leader, and Chief Boatswain. The Chief Boatswain on the TJ is the longest serving member of NOAA on the ship and an expert in his field. Tony’s duties include being Coxswain (abbreviated “Coxn”) on survey launches, being a helmsman on the bridge, operating various heavy machinery on board, and keeping the decks in top shape. He loves that NOAA gives him the opportunity to travel, learn, and provide stepping stones for his future.
My final interview was with GVA James Johnson (JJ). I found out early on that JJ attended Mount Vernon High School, just down the road from where I teach. After earning his GED and serving for 10 years in the Navy as an Aviation Support Equipment Technician, JJ made the switch to NOAA. He loves the idea that he is working for something bigger than himself and not stuck at a 9-5 job. Every day is an adventure as he learns his way around his duties. JJ is currently doing a lot of learning while he works. I have observed him spending hours on the bridge learning how to be a helmsman. Tony and the Officers help to keep a close eye on JJ while he is at the helm learning his new skills. His advice to people who want to be a GVA is to be proactive and seek out training. JJ appreciated the freedom that NOAA employees have to augment on different ships, and loves the excitement each new day brings.
I spent at least half an hour speaking with each person, and the pride they all have in their jobs was something they all conveyed. Working on a ship is more than a job; it is a lifestyle that they have chosen. These men and women spend months of their lives away from their families each year, working to support NOAA’s mission. Kudos to you all, and thanks for making time to talk to a Teacher at Sea.
We have made it back to Norfolk, and everyone is quickly taking the opportunity to celebrate the 4th on their own terms. This is a rare opportunity to be home for the Fourth of July holiday, and we have people going to areas like the Carolinas, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Cancun. Safe travels to everyone! The TJ will be in port for maintenance until mid-August before returning to the waters of the Delaware Bay. Their work for this summer is nowhere close to done, and I wish them all smooth sailing. For my future, I hope to be able to take a group of students on a field trip to Norfolk so that they can see first-hand where I lived for two weeks. I have also extended an invitation to members of the TJ that want to share their experiences with any of my classes. This was an exciting adventure, and I hope it is just the beginning of my interactions with NOAA. Blogging has been a new experience for me, so thank you to everyone who has been following my adventures.
Did You Know?
NOAA Corps Officers have no fewer than eight different uniforms that they must maintain throughout their career. The ship can also be dressed out for the holidays, and the TJ will be flying its flags in honor of the 4th of July.