Kevin McMahon, August 5, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kevin McMahon
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 26 – August 7, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
August 5, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Lat. 44 deg 03.77 N
Lon. 68 deg 18.53 W
Heading 210 deg
Speed 8.7 kts
Barometer 1005.7 mb
Rel Humidity 79.8%
Temp. 15.4 C

Daily Log

0800 hours. We have left behind the protective cove in the shadow of Mt. Desert Island and are now in the Gulf of Maine of 235 degrees along the Maine coast. The skies ahead look more threatening than the skies we are leaving behind.

1130 hours and we are just off Matinicus Rock Lighthouse. I spent about one hour in the engine room with Keegan Plaskon who is the ships 3rd engineer. A very sophisticated propulsion system not to mention electrical systems, HVAC, and desalinization systems for the ship.

The RONALD H. BROWN is known in the trade as a diesel electric ship. It propulsion system is somewhat unique in that it uses diesel engines to generate electricity which in turn is used to power the motors turning the propellers. On most vessels of this size, there is a direct connection between the diesel engines and the propellers.

The propeller system is also unique in that there is no rudder system to steer by. With the propellers connected to what is known as a thruster, the two aft propellers can be rotated independently of each other a full 360 degrees. When the two aft thrusters are synchronized with the bow thruster and tied in with the ships GPS system, it allows the team of scientist onboard to remain on station in one place for an extended period of time. Wind, tide and currents can be overcome. Last evening we stayed in one position in a small bay near Bass Harbor, ME with the ships bow pointed into the wind. Although the wind was only about 4 knots out of the northeast, the tidal flow was running about seven knots at its peak.

There are three large diesel engines onboard whose primary use is propulsion. Each is a 16 cylinder Caterpillar (Cat 3500). A single Cat can propel the ship along at about 7 knots. As more speed is needed, the other two Cats are brought on line. The top speed of the ship is about 14 knots. But the ship also uses it diesel engines for other needs. There are three other Cats onboard. They are smaller engines with 8 cylinders each. These engines are used to provide the ship with the needed electricity for everyday use, and the BROWN uses a lot of electricity. Besides the need the scientists have for electricity, there scientific equipment runs on 110 AC just like in your TV and refrigerator home. The ship uses its generators to make fresh water, provide climate control, refrigerate its food supplies, and run the sewage treatment system, its navigational system and what seems like an endless list of other needs.

What is the fuel consumption like? I am told that the ship consumes between 5 & 6 thousand gallons of fuel per day.


If there are about 75 scientists and crew aboard, how many gallons are needed per hour per day for each person per day?

The vessel is also capable of producing 4,000 gallons of water per day but that on a normal day the people onboard consume about 3,000 gallons per day for consumption, personal hygiene, toilets and industrial uses.


How many gallons is this per person per hour per day?

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