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21 August, 2001

August 21, 2001

Behind the Scenes

The scientists aren't alone in their work around the clock. We are supported by a wonderful Coast Guard crew, and we especially depend on several groups here aboard the Healy.

Although the science party is working to collect samples 24 hours a day, we don't run most of the equipment used to do so. This is the job of the MST's-the Marine Science Technicians. They run the equipment and machinery that the scientists need, in parcticular the winch (the machine that controls the wire that sends the dredge and rock corer down to the ocean floor) and are responsible for maintaining weather equipment and data. These 5 crewmembers work 12-hour shifts so that at least 2 are always available for the scientists. They are a huge part of our program.

Another group that we can't function without is the Galley Crew (kitchen). This group of 3 (yes, only 3!) works nonstop to prepare food for hungry scientists and Coast Guard personnel. They have storerooms containing enough food to feed 125 people for at least 6 months! A typical day's breakfast menu consists of pancakes, sausage, eggs, oatmeal, cereal, bagels, pop tarts, fruit, juices, and coffees. For lunch, soup is always a choice and several hot dishes are available. At dinner, the food is even more plentiful. It may include steak, chicken, vegetables, rolls, pasta, salad, and a large selection of desserts such as pies, cakes, and cookies (and of course my nemesis-- the soft-serve ice cream machine). Then there is the midnight meal! I haven't had the pleasure to partake in this meal as I prefer to sleep at that hour, but for those on duty from 11:30pm to 11:30am, it is breakfast. And I can't fail to mention the soda fountain and candy around the clock. It's quite wonderful if you enjoy eating, which I do. A girl could easily get spoiled here (especially with no messy dishes to do when the meals are over)!

A third group that we depend greatly on is the Bridge Watch Standers- the group responsible for getting us where we need to go. This group consists of 3 crewmembers at a time. The "Lookout" makes sure that we don't run into anything, the "Officer of the Deck" steers the ship, and the "Junior Officer of the Deck" maintains the ship's log, radar, and other equipment on the bridge. The communication between the scientists and this group is of the utmost importance. The lead scientists are constantly making decisions as to where we will go to collect rock samples, and those commanding the ship are quick to respond when the scientists make their decisions. They are excellent at getting us where we want to go.

In actuality, every crewmember's job is a huge part of our mission. It has been an incredible experience to see the professionalism and positive, helpful attitude of the Coast Guard crew as they support us in every way, both behind the scenes and at the helm.

<> "Lookout" Tom Fisher checks out the view ahead.

Suzanne Scriven and Glen Hendrickson are 2 of the 5 Marine Science Technicians. Here they stand in front of a drum holding about 8 miles worth of wire used for dredging. <>

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