Song of Fire and Pirates

Thus far, 2 safety drills have been implemented so far:
  1. Fire on Board Drill
  2. Pirate Attack Drill

Each personnel on the ship has their assigned lifeboats and muster stations that we have to gather once an emergency alarm rang.

Fire on Board Drill

I am assigned onto lifeboat number 4. There are 2 muster stations on the ship, the port side and starboard side (I am getting the hang of maritime terms). There are a total of 4 lifeboats and each lifeboat can accommodate up to 70 people. However, you would not want to have each lifeboat to be completely filled to the brim. Trust me on that. We had a ‘tour’ into the lifeboats and if you are not claustrophobic, you will end up being one.

Lifeboat number 4 located at the port-side

All personnel on the ship are required to proceed to the lifeboats with their life-vests (or life floaties) and hard hats.

Muster stations waiting for orders

For the sake of entering the lifeboats, we were allowed to not use the hard hats. They were rather uncomfortable and bulky; not to mention hot and stuffy too! We went into the lifeboat 10 at a time and I felt extremely nauseous and claustrophobic for someone who has no such problems. 10 people in the boat felt like it was 50 in a boat as we were intruding each others’ personal space.

Inside the lifeboat 10 at a time

Each lifeboat was also supplied with provisions and water that I could only guess we would have a hard time getting to since 2 people were going to sit on it if the need arose. Each seat has a ‘black’ spot marked on it as an indicator that it was a legitimate seat. They sure did not take into account that there would be females on board because each seat were made for tiny butts.

Provisions on board

Someone will have to sit on the water supply

The lifeboat also came with an engine which does not propel far but hopefully far enough to safety.

Start your engines

And if you have a boat mate that is at the verge of insanity, you will have to hide the hatchet and ropes in the lifeboat from any impending disasters. Oh, and by the way, in case there are leaks inside the lifeboat, there is a great arm workout called the bilge pump. Be sure to rotate arms though and do not forget to wear your seat belts in case of rollover. I hope they have a puke bag in there too. Or else…

Keep that hatchet far far away

After 5 minutes being inside, I was ready to get out of it. I am also pretty confident that if a fire ever does break-out, I would rather be hot and stuffy than grilled alive.

Each lifeboat can be manually detached from the JR from the outside and inside. Each lifeboat has a new design that floats regardless on which direction it hits the water – the humans inside will just have to stay alive while that happens.

Pirate Attack Drill

All I can say is that in case you have a bad bladder case, bathroom is taken care of.

Anti Piracy Potty

Until next time folks! The countdown to the equator starts – 3 days and 18 hours to go until the rise of the Pollywogs. That would make a great movie title!

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

The ‘Forbidden’ Shipdom

Due to our long transit, the JR superintendent organized a ship tour to areas where regular science folks would not have had the chance to pry into. Technically, these areas are not exactly forbidden, but an escort is needed when you want to visit.

We started the tour on the bridge, where I found out that the steering wheel on the JR is the same size as a Go-Kart steering wheel. And the ship also has autopilot mode!

The Bridge

Peering out the window, I realised that the captain and his mates could see the ridiculous things we have been up to on the lower deck. Oh boy…

The view from the bridge

We then headed to the JR’s DP (dynamic positioning) area behind the bridge. There was a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo in there, which I did not remember. All I remembered were the involvement of computers in making sure the ship is positioned correctly above the intended drill hole by controlling the thrusters.

DP computers

After the bridge, we headed towards the derrick with our hard hats, goggles and closed-toe shoes.

Concentrating scientists

Derrick shot

Bottom derrick

Electric motor on the derrick

After the bridge, we headed towards the derrick with our hard hats, goggles and closed-toe shoes.

Driller's control room

Coring platform - I guess?

Then, we were introduced to the different drill bits that will be used during the recovery of the cores as well as the core catchers. There is the APC (Advanced Piston Corer), XCB (Extended Core Barrel) and the RCB (Rotary Core Barrel), as shown in the picture below. It will be too long for me to explain how each of them work, so may Google be your best friend.

Drill bits and core catchers

More core barrels are arranged over the floor deck waiting to be utilized once we approach the drill site.

Core barrels

We next headed towards the engine room where I realised that everything was computerized – and not only on the bridge. Just like an airplane, the ship is fully automated.

Computerized engine room

There are 5 main engines on the JR. Being inside the engine room was akin to being inside a sauna. It was hot, stuffy and loud – mind you I had earplugs and I could still hear the roaring of the engines.

One of the main engines

Side profile of a main engine

Of course, somewhere inside the main engine room are the motors that run the two main propellers on the JR. These are the same propellers that are propelling us towards the Maldives. There are also 12 thrusters that will be used upon arrival at the Maldives to keep the ship in place when the drilling starts.

A little reading goes a long way

The propeller room

The main life support systems on the JR are the 3 water distillation systems. Seawater is pumped into these systems, distilled and deionized for shipboard consumption. The water tanks are capable of storing up to 3 days worth of freshwater so, the ship has to make her own. The ship uses at least 40 metric tons of freshwater a day and 45 metric tons of fuel a day.

One of the ship's water maker

The last tour destination was the moon pool. I could see water sloshing around in the moon pool. It was pretty cool. Unfortunately, no styrofoam cups were shrunk in this tour. I wished it did though.

Moon pool

In this post, I am being absolutely lazy to explain every technical term I have written, however, I have added the links to these terms! I am starting my night shift as I am writing this – so, I am half snoozing already! Hasta la vista readers.

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Rounding the Troops

Monday, 5th October 2015 – The day the JR leaves for the Maldives. Before leaving, a compulsory group photo with the JR has to be taken. Rounding a troop of scientists can apparently be quite the challenge.

Getting off the gangway

Old farts and old farts in-training gathered on the pier next to the JR took about 30 minutes!

Scientists with a purpose.

Somehow everyone managed to find their way to the pier and my GoPro snapped away under 30 seconds. We had the sun on our faces – hence we have squinty eyes!

There is a mixed between The Walking Dead with The Ring going on here

The outcome was an effort well worth it. I am now going to print a photo! By the way, the JR has now left the refueling port and is on her way crossing the Indian Ocean.

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Diesel Reloaded

Sunday, 4th October 2015 – The day for refueling the JR arrived. The JR has been chilling by the Port of Darwin and it is time for her to sail towards the refueling dock located 5km away.

JR docked by the Port of Darwin

The crew of course had to retract the mooring lines at the bow and stern as well as the anchors. A few intrepid and inquisitive scientists who decided not to return into the city again headed towards the bridge to watch the crew prepare the JR for sail.

The crew retracting mooring lines and anchors

On the bridge is where the other Internet ‘snow globe’ satellite is located. The JR required 2 tugboats to gently nudge her off the port until the main engines are able to propel her towards the refueling port. She takes approximately 22 to 24 hours to refuel.

Intrepid scientists with one of the tugboats and a million microwave satellite antennae

As she sets sail towards the refueling port, I waved my final goodbyes to Darwin and landmass. We are expected to leave for the Maldives at 06:00 tomorrow.

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Shipboard Labyrinth

 The JR docked by the Port of Darwin during port-call.

The JR docked by the Port of Darwin during port-call.

The JR is a giant labyrinth with stairs and escape latches connecting and disconnecting areas within the ship. In this post I will not rant about how many times I got lost, but rather a short tour of my regular ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

As I am Malaysian and food plays a large part of my culture, I will start the tour at one of my favourite parts of the JR – the Mess Hall aka the dining hall. This is where I will spend not only breakfast, lunch and dinner; I will also have tea breaks and snacks in here! Main meals are served every 6 hours with a 2 hour window, while snacks are served in between every main meal. If the math is done right, there is basically food every 3 hours – it is pretty easy to put on a hefty amount of weight here as there is a free flow of food! On top of that, food is not bad at all (mostly from a graduate student perspective)!

 The Mess Hall where messes are allowed.

The Mess Hall where messes are allowed.

With the amount of calories taken into the system, I will have to burn it all away somehow! There is a pretty neat gym installed in the JR – and a decent amount of free weights. It is somewhat similar to what RSMAS has to offer but a gym on a ship gives me no excuses for not working out.

The place to go when you have eaten like a pig.

The place to go when you have eaten like a pig.

On top of that, there is a cinema on board too! I have not had the time to check it out yet but at some point I probably will use it.

 The cinema...’nuf said.


The cinema…’nuf said.

Just outside the cinema is the JR lounge with books and board games! I guess entertainment is all set.

The lounge with books and games.

The lounge with books and games.

How would the living quarters look like? It is an incredibly small space with bunk beds. I share the space with another scientist of the opposite shift so we do not strangle each other by week 3 and have some privacy. Want to know how good my marketing skills are? I wiggled my way onto obtaining the lower bunk!

The bedroom for the tired souls.

The bedroom for the tired souls.

Of course, I have a shared bathroom with another cabin. That makes 4 people to a bathroom. We agreed that whenever the light is on, there is someone inside. I do hope no one forgets to turn off the light, or else there will be broken doors to be fixed.

Bathrooms with showers that have no problems with water pressure!

Bathrooms with showers that have no problems with water pressure!

The very first place I was acquainted with in the JR is the conference room. This is where meetings and discussions are held. Aside from the Mess Hall, the conference room is also closely connected to our living quarters.

The place where scientific arguments happen.

The place where scientific arguments happen.

The next location in the JR is probably the place where I will spend the bulk of my time (at least 12 hours a day) – even more than the 7 – 8 hours in my living quarters. That would be the core deck sedimentology laboratory. This is my playground with the other cool kids and it is shared with the physical properties specialists.

A sedimentologist’s playground.

A sedimentologist’s playground.

The catwalk is located right outside the core deck sedimentology laboratory where the action happens. This is where the technicians transport the core from the drill floor onto deck for us to investigate.

The beginning of all beginnings of every core.

The beginning of all beginnings of every core.

The JR is supplied with kilometres of core barrels stacked nicely in close proximity to the derrick. The JR is supposed to be capable of drilling up to 8km depth!

Stacked core barrels.

Stacked core barrels.

Like every drill rig, the JR also comes with a helideck! It looks like a horizontal, non-protected hamster wheel. Currently, it is covered with freights and I will be able to take a better picture once all the freights are in place.

The protection-free horizontal hamster wheel.

The protection-free horizontal hamster wheel.

There is Internet on the ship albeit slower than a dial-up modem. The Internet comes from the snow globe structure on the picture below. There are 2 of these on the JR and it is responsible for our Internet connectivity on-board.

The Internet Goddess.

The Internet Goddess.

–Anna Ling

Anna Ling is a Ph.D student in the Centre for Carbonate Research in the Department of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

 

 

South of the border

We’re about 20 hours away from Dutch Harbor, which means it’s about time for me to sit down and write my last post from the Healy!

A little over a week ago we came out of the ice just north of 75°N, 150°W, where we sampled at the last Super Station of the cruise. Unfortunately, once we left the ice, we were hit with strong winds and high seas, which we had to endure while sending instruments over the side of the ship, continuing our science program despite the bad weather. After a few days on the rough station, we decided to head southwest, hoping to escape the bad weather while continuing on the planned cruise track towards the continental slope. Once we arrived there, we sampled a series of closely spaced stations across the slope to understand the interactions between the shelf and the Canada Basin interior. A majority of those stations were sampled during my shift, which made for an exciting night of sampling.

maps

Completed stations during the cruise, with the box around the area that’s enlarged to show the closely placed continental slope stations.

Once we finished the slope stations, we were revisited by some more foul weather, which persisted to the end of our sampling program for the cruise. While the weather wasn’t great, we were fortunate to have clear skies at night and were presented with a number of great displays of the aurora. I was not able to get any great photos of them (but I did get a decent one), Cory got some great shots from the bow.

Aurora

The aurora over the bow, taken on 4 Oct. 15 by Cory Mendenhall, USCG.

Only a few days after our great aurora displays, we had a visitor from Barrow, who flew out on one of the Coast Guard’s Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawks and is spending the duration of the cruise with us (the Jayhawk went back to Barrow).

The Jayhawk preparing to land on the Healy’s flight deck. Photo taken on 7 Oct. 15 by Cory Mendenhall, USCG.

The Jayhawk preparing to land on the Healy’s flight deck. Photo taken on 7 Oct. 15 by Cory Mendenhall, USCG.

Following those exciting events, we’ve been busy breaking down and packing up our lab spaces in preparation for Dutch Harbor. We’re now well south of the Artic Circle, and it feels a little sad that this great journey is actually coming to an end. To celebrate the end of the cruise, the science party cooked a special “morale meal” for all the Healy’s residents, which was fun getting to work in the kitchen for an hour and help out.

Fen cooking enough chicken to feed about 145 people!

Fen cooking enough chicken to feed about 145 people!

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is my last one from sea, but that doesn’t mean this is the last post for me. I have a number of photos from the cruise, along with some videos, that I’ll post about and include links to so you all can experience some of the great experiences I’ve had up north. Also, I’ll be back in Seattle the first week of November to offload the Healy, and I’ll be sure to write about that process.

As usual, stay tuned!

–Andrew Margolin
Andrew Margolin is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Miami‘s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry (MAC) in the Department of Ocean Sciences (OCE) as a National Science Foundation (NSFGraduate Research Fellow.