James Miller, August 24, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
James Miller
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
August 13 – 27, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: August 24, 2005

Location: Kodiak Island Coast Guard Station
Weather: Sun and clouds, 60’s
Wind: variable
Seas: calm
Itinerary: Refuel and depart for Seward

Science and Technology Log 

We arrived into the Kodiak Island Coast Guard Station around 8am for refueling.  The seas were calm and the views were great.  The island is much bigger and mountainous than I anticipated, and most of it is uninhabited. The Coast Guard base is immense, and as I understand it, the largest in the country.  Many of the people that live on the island either work on the base, or on one of the many fishing boats.

A brand new NOAA ship the OSCAR DYSON was also tied up at the dock.  The DYSON is a fisheries ship that takes out researchers for up to forty days.  It was an impressive ship to look at; it actually seemed as tall as it was long (~200 ft).  I received a full tour of the DYSON with the captain and XO of the RAINIER.  It’s inevitable that new ships have kinks that need to be worked out by the crew.  The DYSON certainly has its fair share of kinks, and it will probably take several years before they correct them all.

The DYSON was designed to make little to no noise, the theory being they would be able to come up on schools of fish or whales without them scattering.  The hull is rounded to prevent noise, and the propeller, which was designed with declassified submarine technology, is also built for stealth.  However, they were actually having some noise trouble with the propeller (go figure), so they asked the RAINIER to send down some divers to check if something got fouled in it or the shaft.  They didn’t find any problems.

The Coast Guard has a few vehicles that they permit NOAA to use for the time that they’re in port. So I had an opportunity to go with some of the crew to visit the NMFS Wildlife Center.  It had some interesting displays and a large aquarium with all sorts of marine critters.

Personal Log 

It was nice to put my feet on stable ground and walk more than 30 yards today.  I wanted so much to make a phone call home, but unfortunately I didn’t have a calling card and that was the only way the phones on the dock worked. The phones were quite busy though, the crew wastes very little time getting to the phones.  We’ll be in Seward at 7am tomorrow, so one more day.  We’re getting into port a day early, so I’ll have all of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to see Seward.  The RAINIER doesn’t leave for Prince William Sound, the next leg of the trip, until Monday morning.  I’ll be staying on until Saturday Morning.

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