25 June, 1998
Last station at 3:00 AM and it was a real interesting piece of ice. The only word that describes the area is rubble. As far as the eye could see in any direction looked much the same so there was not much to be gained in looking for smoother ice. We had a small area clear of ice just off the casting deck that would allow us to slip the ROV into the water so this was as good as it was going to get. The park job allowed us to use the crane to off load so the variables were few, which turned out to be a good thing.
We decided against taking sample cores due to the packing up still to do and the lack of time to properly deal with the samples. The focus of our effort was stakes for the ROV and as soon as we started we knew things were not going to work smoothly for our last work site. Part of the jumbled and rubbled condition of the ice was due to rafting, or the overlying of one slab on top of another. This is mainly caused by winds acting on floes and forcing them to pile on top of each other as one overtakes another. This results in cavities and "hollow" areas within the ice as one drills from the exposed surface through the stack of floes. As we were drilling into the ice, one piece below shifted and bound up our auger bit which took quite a bit of sweat and expressive language to free up. We attempted to drill 6 holes and we succeeded in getting through the rubble with three of them. The limiting factor was auger length, which we were able to extend to a maximum of 5 meters. For each of the holes that we succeeded in drilling through, it required 3 of our 8-ft stakes to extend below the ice and into the water. It basically turned out to be a drill fest and not much else.
The midnight sun was lower on the horizon so the shadows were longer and added to the different feel of this station. I spent a good piece of the two hours taking pictures and chatting with BM2 Greg Klynman, the bear watch, while the rest of the ice party wrestled with the auger sections and stakes. Greg was on Polar Sea for AWS 96 and made the trip to Antarctica or "Deep Freeze" during 1997. He is an example of the new guard of career Coasties coming up the enlisted ranks. Young, extremely professional, forward looking, and able to enjoy the minute as best one can, he found out about a week ago that he had passed his test for E6 and will add his First Class Petty Officer stripe when the ship returns to Seattle. During all the operations requiring cranes and boats to get the science party onto the ice, Greg has been the always present, always calm, and always in charge guy. Our success and safety record speaks to his professional qualities and the level of expertise of the women and men he oversees.
The ROV operation went fairly well but there was not a smidgen of ice algae to be seen under this mess of chunks and blocks. We have seen algae under ridges where there are many shelves and recessed areas but apparently this rat nest of melt ponds and rubble is not at all conducive to the growth of Melosira. Today was get all our stuff packed up and finish the last set of samples, day. We succeeded on all accounts and it was not a great feeling to know we would not get a chance to review and reflect over the cruise as had been planned for Nome. We had a meeting with the Captain and XO to discuss the things that went well and not so well during the last 25 days. I was not surprised to see that the "plus" list was five times the size of the "delta" list. Most the "deltas" or "needs improvement" points, were centered around problems with everything not going smoothly for everybody when there were five things going on at the same time. I don't think any of us are naive enough to think that all tasks will execute perfectly but just the same, we all want our own endeavors to go as well as possible. The CO and XO were very open to suggestions and reflect a commitment by the Coast Guard to support science at every opportunity while maintaining a safe environment for all involved.
For the last hurrah this was beaker pizza night!!! The food service people got the galley in a state of readiness and then cleared out as we proceeded to get busy with the pizza thing. Dough, sauce, and toppings of every description were rolled, ladled, and tossed about as music blared and the energy level soared. Seaweed, anchovies, and as I hear tell, even a bit of benthic delight, (mud) found its way into and onto the culinary creations of the beakers. I personally can attest to the gastronomical quality of the anchovies and seaweed pizza and if that was mud that Lisa added to the sauce, I don't know a thing about it! And just for the record, for any beakers that might peruse this sight, I definitely did see Tara throwing dough and I'm not sure what else around the toppings table!
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