Monthly Archives: February 2014

Putting our stern to Nouméa

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Put our stern to Nouméa today headed for the Solomon Islands and Papa New Guinea on our next science cruise.

Nouméa is a nice place but I speak very very little French so it was a hard place to get along.  Managed to get a local beer called “Number One” that was pretty tasty.  My shipmate on the other hand decided to try the “Panache” beer.  Of course we couldn’t asked the waiter because he spoke only French and we only know about six French words.  My buddy’s beer arrived and was not what was expected.  It was sweet beer.  Sweet like stronger than apple juice sweet.  Pretty funny watching him trying to finish it.

Our new science trip is going to be retrieval of science surface moorings.  These moorings have been out for a year or more.  Hopefully we can make a pass or two with our lines before we recover them.

Cheers!

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Nouméa New Caledonia

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We took six days to cross from Samoa to Nouméa.  We had six engineers onboard from Gloston Engineering doing an extensive ship check.  The results and recommendations that they provide will be used for the midlife refit that happens starting this November.

This morning we arrived in Nouméa.  A really nice protected harbor.  We busted out the unload of the next science party and are just waiting to clear customs so we can go ashore and explore (drink).  Cheers!

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(BTW: our internet will be even worse on the next cruise)

Sometimes your the hammer

Sometimes your the hammer, sometimes your the nail. The last couple of weeks things broke, were lost, changed and screwed up. Some of it was ship related issues like one of the main engines, Cat 3516’s, developing a knock and it was discovered that a lobe on the camshaft was bad. It’s not something that they can fix out here (no parts) and Samoa isn’t a good place to get Cat Service either. A second main engine lost a generator. I should say it lost a generator for a couple days until the engineers were able to make repairs and get it back online. The air conditioning on my deck is out. The fan motor bearings went out and they are some special bearings made from unobtainium. Normally we all leave our cabin doors open throughout the day and get some airflow while we are working. It actually stays cooler now to keep my door shut during the day. Also our hydro-boom developed a slow hydraulic leak. The hydro boom sticks off the starboard side of the ship and is how the CTD is launched and recovered. The fix the leak the boom will need to be removed. That is something that needs to be done in the shipyard.

The science party had their own issues as well. If you look back a few posts you’ll see photos of the VMP 6000 that looks like a big torpedo. We launch the VMP over the side with a crane and it sinks away toward the bottom and returns to the surface a few hours later full of data. It failed to return from a evolution. The VMP is completely autonomous and is completely on its own while performing its mission. It also is not propelled in anyway so once we launch it, we say goodbye and then return to the deployment site a few hours later to look for it when it resurfaces. At night it has a pressure activated strobe light and at daytime it has a little flag (much harder to see). It also will send an email via satellite with its position. It never returned. No email, no strobe, no flag. Gone. It likely suffered an implosion at depth. This happened on about the 65th deployed of our trip. Scientists get pretty attached and bonded to their equipment and instruments. The guy who lost this unit was seriously bummed, however he is also very smart. He had his instrument insured for full replacement value! There is a pretty good size deductible, but just a fraction of the overall cost of the equipment, which is around $250,000 (USD). It will take about 12 months for him to get a replacement and then they’ll be back.

On the mooring side of things, we recovered all of the remaining moorings. Our totals for the trip were 12 deployments and 19 recoveries. We were able to recover all of the equipment, but a few had some pretty large tangles in the line. One in particular, the line was so hackled and twisted it will have to be scrapped (see photo). Overall not bad and things went very smoothly.
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The CTD gave us fits the last couple of days (again). The marine techs had to re-terminate the wire several times. There are three small gauge wires inside the cable that carry the data signal and one of them is grounding out. This typically happens near the termination, so by cutting off 30 or so meters and re-connecting they can fix the issue. It did not this time. Since we had recovered the last of the moorings, the VMP was lost and the CTD was not usable without more work, the trip was cut short about one day and we headed into port at Apia Samoa, arriving approx. 1930.
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The next day, the deck crew had everything offloaded by 1000, except for 2 – 20′ containers that needed to be lifted off by a shore side crane. Our ship’s cranes cannot lift the weight of the container and it’s contents combined. Everyone was jonesing to knock off and go snorkeling, drinking, swimming, shopping, etc. The shore side crane was sitting on the dock near the ship, but the operator left for a two hour lunch. They finally returned and then sat around killing another hour. They finally got set up to lift the first of two containers off and get the offload complete. Just as the operator started to take some strain with the crane, the boom folded in half. The look on the operator’s face was one of total disbelief. He was able to whip down to slack the wire enough so we could get disconnected and he could rotate away from the ship.
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Some calls were made to find another rane. None could be located. Thankfully the entire science party except three were still onboard. We had to hand unload both containers by hand, use our ship’s crane to lift the empties to the dock and then re-load them by hand. This took several hours and lasted well into the evening. Sometimes your the nail.

Since our next science trip begins from a different port, we didn’t have any equipment to load just fuel and stores (groceries). Some public out reach type stuff happened and we had some visitors. Late in the day a motorcade arrived and the Samoan Prime Minister came onboard for a visit. We finally finished the fueling operations, again late in the evening. As soon as we knocked off, a bunch of us walked next door to the marine reserve and went snorkeling for about an hour before dark. It felt really nice after all of the deck operations of the last couple weeks. We departed Samoa this morning and are on a short transit to our next port of call. Look for more posts soon.

Anchor discovered off of Whidbey Island may solve 200 year old mystery

Anchor

HMS Chatam

Q13 Fox News is reporting:

PUGET SOUND – When a commercial diver stumbled over a massive object in the waters off Whidbey Island back in 2008, local historians debated the significance of the discovery. Doug Monk was gathering sea cucumbers when his air hose got snagged on what turned out to be the arm of a old ship’s anchor, the Seattle Times reported. Since then, experts have been researching books and explorer’s journals, checking British court documents, and even checking with weather experts on 18th-century water currents.

The consensus now is that what Monk found in the waters off Whidbey might be one of the most sought-after relics of European exploration of the Pacific Northwest: an anchor lost by a ship that accompanied Capt. George Vancouver in 1792, the Times reported. Vancouver was exploring the Puget Sound aboard HMS Discovery.

Monk, and amateur historian Scott Grimm think that the 900- pound anchor broke free in heavy currents off the HMS Chatham on June 9, 1792. The Chatham was an armed tender to Vancouver’s ship Discovery, the Times reported.

There are others that dispute the conclusion that the anchor is from the Chatham. No one will be able to say for certain until the anchors is excavated this spring, the paper reported. Monk hopes to have the anchor tested by experts at Texas A & M University.

“For 100 years people have been looking for this thing,” Grimm said. “It was discovered by pure accident. That’s the real story — that the history was screwed up. I want to correct the history books.”

Grimm admits that if he and Monk are somehow proven wrong or if more analysis proves inconclusive, he would be greatly disappointed. But he doesn’t think that will happen, the Times reported.

PUGET SOUND – When a commercial diver stumbled over a massive object in the waters off Whidbey Island back in 2008, local historians debated the significance of the discovery. Doug Monk was gathering sea cucumbers when his air hose got snagged on what turned out to be the arm of a old ship’s anchor, the Seattle Times reported. Since then, experts have been researching books and explorer’s journals, checking British court documents, and even checking with weather experts on 18th-century water currents.

The consensus now is that what Monk found in the waters off Whidbey might be one of the most sought-after relics of Euopean exploration of the Pacific Northwest: an anchor lost by a ship that accompanied Capt. George Vancouver in 1792, the Times reported. Vancovuer was exploring the Puget Sound aboard HMS Discovery.

Monk, and amateur historian Scott Grimm think that the 900- pound anchor broke free in heavy currents off the HMS Chatham on June 9, 1792. The Chatham was an armed tender to Vancouver’s ship Discovery, the Times reported.

There are others that dispute the conclusion that the anchor is from the Chatham. No one will be able to say for certain until the anchors is excavated this spring, the paper reported. Monk hopes to have the anchor tested by experts at Texas A & M University.

“For 100 years people have been looking for this thing,” Grimm said. “It was discovered by pure accident. That’s the real story — that the history was screwed up. I want to correct the history books.”

Grimm admits that if he and Monk are somehow proven wrong or if more analysis proves inconclusive, he would be greatly disappointed. But he doesn’t think that will happen, the Times reported.

Read more: http://q13fox.com/2014/02/09/anchor-found-off-whidbey-island-may-solve-200-year-old-mystery/#ixzz2tAcKE92r

Miss Unsinkable: She survived the Titanic, Britannic and Olympic

Miss Unsinkable

Gizmodo is reporting:

”Miss Unsinkable,” the woman who survived the sinking of the sister ships the Titanic and the Britannic, and was also aboard the third of the trio of Olympic class vessels, the Olympic, when it had a major accident.

Violet Jessop enjoyed incredible “luck” from a young age. Born in 1887 in Argentina to Irish immigrants, she contracted tuberculosis as a young child and was given just a few months to live. Somehow, she managed to fight the disease and went on to live a long, healthy life.

The complete Gizmodo post is here.

Long week

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The Seattle Seahawks demolished the Denver Broncos in the Superbowl last week and won their first Championship! There was a huge parade in Seattle for the team on the following Wednesday and over 700,000 fans showed up in 20 degree weather to cheer for the team. My daughter was one of those who got the “Green and Blue Flu”. I wish I was home to see that!

Onboard the ship, we’ve had some excitement. It all started with the night science watch (who radio the AB running the winch, what depth and what speed to lower or raise the CTD) not paying close attention and dropping the CTD on the bottom and then piling 250 meters of cable on top of it before realizing they were on bottom. When there is over 5,000 meters of cable out, the weight of the cable alone will pull nearly 5,000 pounds of tension and the winch operator will never know they’ve struck the bottom. It is up to the science watch to keep an sharp eye and the real time readings to inform the winch operator to slow down or stop before grounding. There are two little sensors that hang down below the frame of the CTD that were instantly bent beyond repair the second they hit bottom. The cable also needed to be cut short by around 200 meters because once it piles in a wad, when they pull it tight again it gets all hackled up (commonly referred to as “assholes”) and they need to re-terminate the end of the cable. The cable has a core that carries data and that data connection is very sensitive and that takes some time for the techs to get right along with the cable re-termination.

So they got it all together and re-launched the CTD after losing about a half of a day and some expensive sensors that needed to be replaced. They got back down near the bottom and then the tension readout on the winch used for CTD casts freaked out and went from a normal of around 5,000 pounds to around 25,000 to 50,000 pounds. It just kept jumping around and the techs needed to bring the CTD back onboard to work on the sensors and try to get everything back in order. The terminations all had to be redone again. Then they would launch and things would be normal for awhile then issues would begin all over again. Finally they started looking elsewhere and found the junction box on the winch itself was full of water and causing the issues.

The techs switched winches and all seemed normal again for awhile and then the mystery issues started all over again. Turns out the second winch also had water in the wiring junction box. The engineers and marine techs were busy beavers for several days troubleshooting, fixing, rewiring, etc. trying to get everything back to normal.

While all of this was going on, the VMP operations continued. If you go back a could of posts you will see that the VMP is the thing that looks like a torpedo that we hang over the side and release and it goes to a preset depth and then floats back up to the surface. During one of the launches, the tech entering the depth was mistakenly given a pressure reading instead of the depth reading. The wrong number was entered into the VMP unknowingly. When the VMP was supposed to resurface and the prescribed time, it didn’t. This instrument costs about $250,000 Dollars (U.S.). It was late by about and hour and a half. There were some nervous science people pacing around. Finally it was spotted and didn’t seem to be riding just right in the water. We got it onboard and found some large manganese nodules jammed into the tip of the VMP basically damaging all of the sensors. The incorrect depth info entered into the VMP caused it to hit bottom hard, but where it happened to strike bottom is full of manganese. So that was another F-Up.

The mooring operations fared much better and we recovered and deployed several moorings over the week. It was in the mid 90’s most the week and we were dying on deck but everything went according to plan.

The Techs and engineers got the winches and CTD buttoned back up and returned into operation. I had relived the winch operator so he could eat dinner (chow relief) and was given a depth of 4500 meters. As I approached 4470 I slowed down to come to a gradual stop. As is common, the science lab called and gave a new depth, this time 4550 meters. I continued on and just as I got to 4500 meters, they called stop, stop , stop then go up, go up, go up! We landed on bottom again, this time for 7 seconds and did not pile any cable on top but it did trash the two little sensors that hang from the bottom of the frame again. Those were the last of spares so any CTD casts after that don’t include the data provided by those sensors. I’m not even sure exactly what they do for sure. Whatever it was, they don’t do it anymore.

Today is Sunday and we were told last night to plan for a Sunday routine (half day of work). At 0600 I was called out to do a mooring retrieval (that was not scheduled). There were four mooring recoveries set for Monday. It turns out that a large yellow sensor on the CTD has quit functioning and there are no spares onboard. Today the rain was fierce and my boots filled up again. The mooring we recovered today has one of those sensors inline. So we recovered the mooring, so the science party could take that sensor, download the data, replace the batteries and mount it to the CTD and be back in business. The mooring has been out for a year and a half and when it came up the whole thing was knitted into a sweater. Several hundreds of meters of line, sensors, shackles, floats, and releases were tangled together. We would winch up to a connection, stopper line it off, try to remove any un-needed parts or pieces and continue. It took about three times the normal length of time to recover. Everyone was drenched from either the rain, or if wearing raingear, the sweat from being in their personal greenhouse. I chose no raingear today and the rain felt good compared to the heat earlier this week. I did start to get cold towards the end.

I again tried to download a bunch of photos, but our tiny bandwidth won’t allow the photos to upload. Here are some of the photos of the weather. We start pulling out the remaining moorings tomorrow as we start to wind down the trip in the next nine days.

Until next time, Todd

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Superbowl Monday

Today is the Superbowl with the Seattle SEAHAWKS vs. Denver Broncos.

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Superbowl Monday doesn’t quite have the same ring as Superbowl Sunday but that’s what our crew is dealing with today.  We (the deck dept.) usually have a mellow Sundays at sea.  The day workers will take one half of the watch and the watch standers will cover the other half.  This week with all of the science, mooring deployments, and fubar equipment the Sunday routine was forgotten.  I even missed the Friday poker game because I forgot it was Friday.  I really like playing poker with the scientists…..its like stealing candy from a baby.
  The captain, also being from Washington, decided we would shift our Sunday routine to Superbowl Monday.  So we have a chill day to watch the big game.  Except for we don’t have satellite TV, or enough bandwidth to stream the game.  So we can watch ESPN online which shows a graphic of a football field and you can see the ball move down the field.  There is also a text description of each play.  That’s as good as it gets for us today. We’ll take it!

Go SEAHAWKS!

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