19 August, 2002
I've already told you about the Captain of the Healy, and today I'm going to tell you about two more of the officers on board. CDR (Commander) Doug Russell is the Executive Officer on board the Healy and second in command to the Captain. His room is right next to ours and I can vouch for the fact that he gets a lot of phone calls. For the first few days I would try to answer those that came late at night, because I was not awake enough to realize the ringing was coming from the room next door! CDR Russell (everyone calls him XO) has been in the Coast Guard for 20 years, and he's been on the Healy for one year. CDR Russell is an engineer by trade. Prior to coming on board the Healy, he was commanding officer in charge of the Coast Guard office in New Orleans where he was overseeing construction of the Coast Guard's newest motor life boats These are boats that are not only extremely rugged, but they can roll over and keep going! They'll be used on both coasts and on the Great Lakes. He has also served on a ship in the Northwest Atlantic doing fisheries work on the Georges Bank, and he did three years of Coast Guard work in Miami with alien migration interdiction operations and drug enforcement. This is his third cruise to the Arctic; he loves it because it is never the same and each day is a new challenge. He is excited about traveling where few people get to go.
On board the Healy, CDR Russell's job involves personnel and administration duties. He ensures that the Captain's vision is carried out. Each day, CDR Russell prepares the Plan of the Day that lists all the events of the day and includes a cartoon for everyone's enjoyment. Also on a daily basis, CDR Russell checks with the "customers," the scientists in this case. There is a considerable amount of planning that goes into a cruise such as this, and CDR Russell is an important part of that planning. Another of his duties is to write a weekly report for the families of the crew. The report is posted on the web and distributed to the families through a crewmember's wife who is on land. I can really appreciate that part of his job! On occasion, CDR Russell deals with personnel issues ranging from medical concerns to discipline to keeping the correct number of cooks on board at one time. His work involves interfacing with the Operational Commander of the Pacific Area (based in California) regarding the ship's schedule, budget, and training operations. In addition to all his other responsibilities, CDR Russell watches out for the ship's morale and overall cleanliness. He repeatedly stressed to me that he loves the camaraderie of this crew; they are a great group and they always get the job done! With all that he does on board, CDR Russell's favorite part of his job is driving the ship. He says it puts all his senses on edge, especially when he is driving in ice or fog.
LCDR (Lieutenant Commander) Joe Segalla, the Operations Officer (OPS), came on board the Healy in July of 2001. He's been in the Coast Guard for 20 years in a number of different capacities. He served for two years in Florida doing law enforcement, and he parcticipated in a Navy-Coast Guard exchange where he served on board a Navy destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea. He was also a commanding officer on board a patrol boat in Alaska, doing search and rescue, law enforcement, and fisheries work. After graduate school where he received a Masters degree in Industrial Administration, LCDR Segalla worked in Alaska overseeing the installation of VHF communications sites all long the coast. His current job on board the Healy depends to a great extent on whether or not the ship is in ice. When the ship is in ice, his most important job is ice reconnaissance. He takes regular helicopter flights to map the ice conditions, and he tries to plan the best route for the ship to take (fastest and safest). Although we have not dealt with a lot of ice on this cruise, the spring SBI cruise often faced difficult ice conditions. On one occasion, it took them four hours to travel two miles and, on another occasion, it took them nearly twelve hours to go one mile! At that time, even the satellites didn't help because they showed nearly 100% ice cover. When checking ice conditions, the helicopter pilots fly first at up to 1000 feet above the ice and then again at only 75 feet above the ice since the ice can look so different from the two heights. Checking ice conditions is critical when science is going on because the chief scientist, the captain, and LCDR Segalla must all work together to plan which stations can be reached and which might need to be adjusted.
In addition to ice reconnaissance, LCDR Segalla has a number of other responsibilities on board. He is responsible for navigation, computers, and communications on board, and he oversees the big picture of what's happening with the science operations. It's his job to make sure that we're positioned correctly and that the ship is moving just as soon as a station is complete. If you have followed my journals, you know how important that is! Another part of that job is overseeing the Deck Division which includes all small boat operations as well as the deck equipment such as the cranes and anchors. In addition, LCDR Segalla's job involves a lot of coordination, for example with engineering, supplies, the helicopter pilots, the medical personnel, and the chief scientist. He also trains the OODs (Officer Of the Deck) in ship handling. LCDR Segalla told me that he has been on a number of ships, some of which were built in the 1960's, and the difference in technology on board the Healy is huge! He loves being on board the Healy for that reason and because he enjoys working with a crew that is on board because they all want to be here!
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