Tag Archives: research vessel

Sikuliaq, tugs, shipyard and training

I’ve been home since just before Thanksgiving and enjoyed a nice holiday season with the family and got a lot done around the house too.  

Shortly after Thanksgiving I took a Vessel, Company and Facility Officer Course at PMI in Seattle. 

 Right after that I flew to New York City, rented a car and drove about an hour and half North along the Hudson River to complete my TOAR ( towing officer assessment record) on a very old diesel electric tug named the Cornell.  The program is offered by Diamond Marine Services and helps mariners like me who have a good chunk of their toar complete but are having a hard time getting the time at the wheel to finish the maneuvering portions.  In my particular case, the tugs I work on mostly tow freight barges from Seattle to Alaska.  When we pull into port, the chief mate, second mate and ab’s are all up on the barge to make her fast.  Only the captain remains aboard to maneuver the tug (sometimes the captain and chief mate trade roles).   It could take years before I could knock out all of the assessments, especially since we don’t do many of the maneuvers often or where I could break away from my job to get time to do them.  Diamond’s program lets you complete all the maneuvering with their tug and deck barge.  

As soon as I returned from New York, I turned in another application at the USCG in Seattle .  It took nearly 2.5 months to get my new MMC in the mail as they were so backed up with mariners trying to beat the rule change deadlines at the end of 2016.

I did one quick little overnight tug job from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada and back in January to deliver a barge to a shipyard:

Seattle, the Emerald City (evening):

Vancouver, Canada (very early am):

Mt. Baker along the way:

In early February, I was scheduled to work at Vigor Shipyards (formerly Todd Shipyard) for one month onboard the Thomas G. Thompson. She’s in getting a full makeover and re-power refit, re-pipe, paint, and many other upgrades. Shortly after getting my schedule all figured out, I received a call from the University of Alaska to make a relief trip on the R/V Sikuliaq.  I had to change my shipyard stint from one month to two weeks.  Trust me when I tell you that two weeks was plenty!  The ship is all torn apart and a ton of work to get done.  It was interesting to see the progress being made.  It will also be interesting to see if it will be done on time or not.

Shortly after accepting the relief gig on the Sikuliaq, I got called by my tug company to make a run to Dutch Harbor for roughly 35 days.  It’s their slowest time of the year so when I told them I found some relief work they were totally cool with it because they had several people to try and keep busy.  When I return in April they should picking up steam and probably keep me super busy over the summer.

So shortly I’ll be leaving home to join the Sikuliaq.  She’s got an ice class hull designed for science trips in the Arctic.  I’m meeting her in Hawaii and taking her to Newport, Oregon stopping by Musician Seamounts for some project that I’m not yet sure of.  She’s 261′ long, 55′ wide and was launched in 2014.  Until recently, she had a terrible reputation as having a awful ride.  A problem was discovered with the ships roll tank and once that was corrected the ride has improved dramatically according to those I’ve talked to.  We shall see.  Here are some more pics:

Everyone be well and I’ll try to keep updates rolling……..if the internet works.

Thomas G. Thompson video taken from a drone

Here is a cool video taken by a drone late last summer onboard the Thomas G. Thompson (on which I sail as Able Seaman).

The video of the ship at the dock is at the University of Washington in Portage Bay (Lake Washington).

The video showing us backed up to a buoy is off La Push, WA while deploying a scientific mooring (after we pulled it for maintenance approx 10 days earlier.

The video of the ship in the narrow channel is in Seattle’s Ship Canal and Ballard Locks which leads from Puget Sound to Lake Washington.

The video was made by Paul Sharpe who used a homemade drone. The drone was made from a Tupperware container.

Here is the video:

Epic Fail: Reserch Vessel

I was made aware of this photo onboard my new ship and had to go take a picture of the picture hanging in the lounge. The Thomas G. Thompson was built in Pascagoula, Mississippi and launched in 1990 by Halter Marine and owned by the U.S. Navy. Here is a photo from the christening ceremony:


R/V Thomas G. Thompson

My first Able Seaman job has landed. The pesky RFPNW seatime has made the search much more challenging because I don’t currently work for a company with ship large enough to earn the required seatime. For any other newbs reading this, here is the word of the day: Persistance. I called, emailed, called, visited, called, and emailed some more, all of the companies I could find that had the appropriate sized vessels. Many of the Port Captains and HR people at these companies know my name from my frequent calls. I was just about to jump on a tug making freight runs to Western Alaska, which was a really cool job, but didn’t satisfy the seatime for RFPNW, when the current opportunity arose. After looking far and wide, the University Of Washington (my backyard) called and offered me a relief position on the Thomas G. Thompson Research Vessel. This is working out perfectly, as the Thompson is 3056 tons! Here are some pictures:





Here is the ship’s website.

I don’t know alot about the trip I will be on, other than we are loading the ROV Jason and heading out in the Pacific. I will be posting progress along the way. Until then: Stay thirsty my friends!