Monday, July 9, 2012


July 5th 2012
USS Utah
Our ship is underway at 0915. We can see the rusted hull or what remains of the USS Utah sticking out of the water. Utah was a casualty from the attack on Pearl Harbor, suffering a loss 3 officers and 52 enlisted men by capsizing after a torpedo strike. The ship remains near the shore at Ford Island, and a memorial sits adjacent to site.

As soon as our ship leaves the harbor and heads out for open water, taking a course through the channel between Kawaui and Oahu, our ship goes through some rolling seas. Time for everyone to start building up their sea legs. We set sail for our first destination, French Frigate Shoals; the midpoint of the Hawaiian archipelago and the first atoll you come across in the Hawaiian islands. We are scheduled to arrive there by 1300 on the third day, giving us two and a half days at sea. Along the way we were going through 25 knot winds and heavy swells. The scene is beautiful with clear skies and bright blue water littered with white caps.

Sailing away from Oahu

Christian Clark and I rigging the mooring lines 
Carl is quick to put us to work and remind us that while amongst the pleasant scenery and pleasantries of going out to sea, we still have a lot of work to do between each location and each dive.  We start by constructing the mooring lines that we will use to deploy our acoustic receivers. We also prep the receivers by initializing them (setting the time, date, and location for deployment) and coating them in electrical tape. This makes it easier to clean the receivers when we retrieve them because after a full year of sitting in the water, our instruments collect a lot of encrusting algae and other biofouling organisms. Peeling the tape off along with the biofouling is an easier process than chiseling off all of the calcareous encrusting algae.
We hold our first meeting in the dry lab, which also serves as a chart room for the scientists to make plans for each day of operations. The scientists, crew and NOAA officers are all introduced to one another. We learn the operations and the regimented conduct of the ship.

I am thoroughly impressed with the mess deck of this ship. The stewards do an amazing job preparing amazing meals for everyone on board. Good food does wonders for the moral of a ship, I am looking to every meal I will be having onboard. Meals at very specifc times and end on the hour. Tough luck if you miss it. Tomorrow will be day of more prep work, rescue dive training and ship drills. 

Each scientist stakes out a workspace in the drylab. I was lucky enough to get a spot right in front of the ship's library. There is a small but impressive collection of books on maritime history, whaling ships, seamanship, Hawaii natural history, marine life and reports from past NOAA cruises. There is even a copy of Steel's Elements of Mastmaking Sailing and Rigging
Chart table in the dry lab
Carl at the ship store, buying some fruity fragrant shampoo

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