21 Sept 2014
My day starts off at 0400 with a watch at ROPOS. This time it was not actually so dry because some of the dive objectives were completed. Dive 1790’s purpose was to disconnect the Deep Profiler from the under water cables. For some uncertain reason the Profiler was not working. The profilers are essentially a robot that makes scientific measurements such as CTD’s (conductivity temperature density) and pH. It does so while being able to move up and down the water column via a winch. Most of the activity occurred at 2850 or so meters. With the dock for the cable and pressure vessel containing different electronics located near the base. Despite being Canadian, the ROPOS team demonstrated extreme dexterity with their use of the robotic arms to precisely move cables and pick up items.
Well done Canada.
20 Sept 2014
Although yesterday was action packed, it is followed by a day of exhaustion. Do not underestimate being just flat out tired. I am not sure if I can emphasize how loud the bow thruster is.
I was pretty much rendered useless by a lack of solid sleep. Paul Aguilar gave a presentation on his dives for APL and for the Navy. I stuck with it through the digital stills but once he played the GoPro videos, I was pretty much done. Usually I would find former Navy Diver fascinating especially because he was EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal), but my body would say otherwise. His slides included an unarmed torpedo, a Seawolf class submarine, a polar bear, and a Russian. That kind of combination can only be found in the Artic, which it was. Having seen the Connecticut in the dry dock myself it was awesome to see it at work. Although I’m pretty sure some of the stuff we saw was classified material, it was a great to have a second hand experience.
19 Sept 2014
I apologize for the lack of blogs. We were in port for a day and half loading up equipment and exchanging personnel.
Yesterday we left at approximately 1500 and I got seasick almost immediately. Again.
That is probably a good enough summary for those days.
A member of the ROPOS team, Jim, explained the navigation aspect of the ROV. He explained the hydrophone, the GPS, the programming involved, basically the whole enchilada. Jim who is a former U.S. Navy submariner is also a UW graduate in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering is sixty something years old and is still very active. It is quite motivating to work with a man who has possibly seen major evolutions in computers, programming, and engineering.
This time we placed a vertical mooring at Slope Base. The same instruments were placed as last time at Axial Base only this place is more than100 miles closer.
I got to do some physical work today. One was pulling in the CTD (conductivity, temperature & density) instrument, which involved attaching lines and cleaning it.
The other event was attaching footballs to the EOM (Electro-Optical Mechanical) cable. This ladies and gentlemen was Friday Night Lights for me. Allow me to explain because this neither involves actual footballs or a high school football team from Texas. So in a normal mooring there is just an anchor with some sort of buoy or float at the top attached by the wire. The vertical mooring consists of two legs. The “dumb” and “smart”, one takes on most of the weight of the float while the other transmits information. The smart or EOM cable has large forty four pound floats that provide nineteen pounds of buoyancy is not designed to be under a large amount of tension. Therefore to relieve some of that tension floats shaped like football have to manually place at certain distances along the 3000 meter cable. My part was lining up the two halves of the footballs on the cable and putting the washers and nut in place. Some say that if NASCAR were watching our live feed, they could hire us right on the spot as a pit crew. Added to the fact that the footballs are heavy, the boat is swaying, the drill has a ton of torque, and it was dark, someone decided to play 80’s music while there were Men at Work. It was quite an experience or a Journey trying to learn how all these AC/DC electronics work aboard this Metallc(a) boat.
I seriously can’t wait to get sleep in my own room where it will be quiet. Although I admire the ability of this boat to stay at one spot, the Z drives are killing me softly (song came out in 1971 therefore not a part of the previous joke). It is called a Z drive from the shape of the mechanical shaft. Anyways it is advantageous because rather than having rudders the whole screw (propeller) can rotate especially the one at the bow. Lucky for me I get to hear the bow thruster every night it has been running. My theory is that it is called Z drive because it runs off the sleep (zzz’s) it steals from the crew trying to sleep.
16 Sept 2014
Where ever you in the world, 0400 does not feel like a good time to wake up in the morning. When the engine room for the bow thruster is just two inches away from your head, it is already hard enough to sleep. The only reason I had to get up that early was that I was scheduled to stand watch for the dive of the ROV (remotely operated vehicle). ROPOS, the Canadian ROV (remotely operated vehicle), was set to dive at 0230 but the team was still discussing at 0400. Safe to say I took that opportunity to go back to bed. But with my luck I got woken up again at 0615.
The ROPOS control room is very impressive. It is like a miniature NASA control room on a boat. Although I must suffer through sleep deprivation, a mild motion sickness, and have to work with Canadians, my job was pretty simple. I was responsible for taking images of anything interesting or that needed to confirm on the checklist for the time stamps and location. I am sad to say that most of my watch was on the descent of the vehicle. The vehicle needed to reach the bottom. At a speed of 20 meters a minute and a bottom of 3000 meters, which is about two hours of watching little critters float by. If I wanted to watch ocean life at the wee hours of the morning, I would choose SpongeBob Squarepants. Again this is a great opportunity I just wish I had better luck on when the action happens. At sea there are a lot great moments but there are also a lot of preparation and waiting moments such as my experience before the mission can be completed.
0800-1220: Intermittent naps in the library.
At about 1300, we went underway again to pick up the second mooring and respool the winches in Newport. It is exciting to know we will be headed back to land if only for a day.
“When left to my own devices, I can do little else but dream”-John Delaney
15 Sept 2014
I believe time is of the essence is more so true on land than it is at sea. Other than getting some information from the APL (Advanced Physics Laboratory) guys I have been keeping myself busy with the Monkey Fist knot again. I covered a ping-pong ball with this. I am not sure if I want to see know how to do any more knots as my curiosity for them has significantly increased.
Trevor Harrison finally came down this morning to the lab at around 0900 and sarcastically commented on how our schedule was really busy. I replied while working on my Monkey Fist that “My hands are all tied up”.
My roommates from my freshmen year at UW used to make fun of me for repurposing cardboard for things like a pencil box or an enclosure for a camera. Little did I know that that type of mentality meant that I was an engineer. The winch was being used to lower the anchor for the mooring had large resistors to brake. As a result of a long use and the heat of the sun, the resistors and physical brake were overheating. The APL people used two simple fans and some cardboard to cool down the winch.
Slowly the Vertical Mooring is being assembled. First the anchor, then the line, and two floats followed and finally the VM platform. For the final piece they lay out the “smart” leg, which contains the fiber optic cable that allows communication. No news since then.
I’ve been Jae Jose.
Buenas Noches Estados Unidos.
14 Sept 2014
It was a rough night for me. Have not seen land since 1700 yesterday. Although my day has been simple, the amount of information in short bursts can be overwhelming at times. Having to keep up with all the terminology and background is tough at times but seems to worth it as it becomes more and more interesting. The amount of detail the scientists, engineers, crew, and video team put into their stories is enough to put together a walking encyclopedia.
Not only is it interesting to hear these stories or information but to listen to the speaker talk about. You can tell that the people aboard this ship are genuinely interested in this research. For most people on this vessel this is not just another job but a passion and a career. It is very humbling to be seeing them in action. Learning about basic oceanography, ROPOS, and this project from the perspective of the media personnel is a fantastic experience.
At 2000 Keith, a member of the ROPOS team, gave us a brief explanation of the system as a whole and major members. One of the major pieces that interested me was the fiber optic gyroscope filled with 5000 meters of fiber optic cable that uses photons to give a the orientation of the ROPOS vehicle. By sending out a photon in the x, y, and z components and timing it to check for the affects of gravity you can get the information on the position of the vehicle.
While there is lots of work to do, there is a lot of sitting do. I can tell you that my rear end needed no preparation such an activity. It is though I was meant be on a ship. As for the rest of sea life, there is not too much that can prepare you.
I’ve been Jae Jose. Goodnight America.
13 Sept 2014
It is so dark I can barely find my alarm. On land I can depend on a window to let the sunlight give me a sense of time; but inside the ship’s hull I only have my clock. I go out on to the deck and I see the sunrise but immediately go back in because it is too cold. After eating breakfast it is announced that we will no longer be leaving at 1000 but instead at 1600. In the mean time, I have made myself acquainted with the monkey fist; a specific knot that essentially creates a big ball.
We finally set sail at approximately 1630. It is quite the sight. At first the rolling ocean doesn’t affect you too much especially if you are outside and on the rail but once you let go it is a different story.
While going through this motion, I am trying to think of a student project. If it were not difficult enough to find a project on an oceanography-based research vessel, try it while getting nauseous.
It is a whole lot of information and movement but so far I am enjoying it. Can not wait to see what is in store for tomorrow.