10 August, 2003
The ship's Captain, the Chief Scientist, and the MPC are the "big three" that make sure the cruise stays on schedule and all of the goals are obtained. If you have visited this website previously you already know something about Captain Joe Borkowski and Chief Scientist Jim Swift. But who and what is the MPC? Actually you have already met him too. If you check 3 August, you'll meet Dr. Karl Newyear, the grease ice expert who also happens to be the Marine Projects Coordinator for this voyage of the R/V Palmer.
Karl's role as the MPC is to provide all of the logistics and infrastructure support during the cruise. In order to do this, however, a good part of the job occurred before any of us were even on board. In fact, on land, Karl even goes by a different job title- Science Cruise Coordinator - where he works at Raytheon Polar Services in Denver, Colorado. Just lining-up the helicopter support for the marine mammal survey, for example, involved coordinating logistics between several agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration, Prism Helicopters, National Science Foundation, Office of Aircraft Services, and the Palmer's own company, Edison Chouest Offshore. Shipping, tracking, and then, accounting for Raytheon's as well as all of the scientists' cargo from all over the country to Hawaii turned-out to be a bit of a challenge too. Checking on equipment availability and pier space, and making arrangements for fuel and supplies added to Karl's long list of things that had to be done before the cruise could get underway. Indeed, he even made time to personally contact me in case I needed any help.
One of the more unusual tasks for this cruise involved developing safety protocols for encounters with polar bears. Since the Palmer has always operated in the Antarctic, this presented an entirely new challenge for Karl. This meant working with bear experts in various agencies such as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Safety measures include steps such as using the ship's horn to shy the bear away to simple avoidance like keeping everyone inside in the event that a bear climbed on board.
"It's similar to packing for a BIG camping trip," Karl observed, "because you need to make sure that you have everything with you." Obviously, if you forget something, that's that. But Karl's job doesn't end there.
Once on board, and out to sea, he assumes his new position as the ship's MPC. That's where much of the infrastructure comes in. For starters, many of the CTD gadgets that go on the rosette water sampler is Raytheon's, and for that matter, so are the water bottles and the rosette itself. And so are many of the sensors, and the cable that is attached to the rosette. There is multi-beam sonar too. Computer networks, e-mail systems, data logging, and archiving are all just part of the package of services that Karl oversees.
But he can't do this job alone. Tomorrow I'll introduce you to Karl's Raytheon colleagues; however, for now, suffice it to say that the overall success of this cruise is in no small measure due to this easy going scientist's skills and expertise.
Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.