9 August, 2002
Science could not happen on board the USCGC Healy without a dedicated group of coast guard crew called the MST's. They are the Marine Science Technicians who facilitate all the science operations on board. They have a long list of duties related to our work among which are:
- deploy and recover every piece of scientific oceanographic equipment that goes into the water,
- assist the scientists in the laboratories,
- handle and store hazardous materials for the scientists and the crew,
- provide weekly briefings for the ship and for the aviation detachments (the helicopter pilots),
- perform ice imagery analysis on board the ship,
- report weather observations to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration),
- provide a report of marine mammal sightings to NOAA,
- operate the ship's installed scientific equipment such as the CTDs and the ACDP (Acoustic Current Doppler Profiler).
LTJG Mike Woodrum is the Marine Science Officer in charge of the MST's. He is the official liaison between the Coast Guard and the science party on board. His principal job is to coordinate all the science missions on board the ship. Although the spring SBI cruise left in late May of this year, Mike was in contact with the some of the scientists as early as November of 2001. Mike's primary job is working with the MSTs but he spends a good deal of his time on the bridge driving (conning) the ship.
Senior Chief Marine Science Technician Glenn Hendrickson coordinates the operation of the marine science division. As he says, he is like the principal in a school who guides the teachers who actually get the job done. If that is the case, he is a very active "principal" as we often see him out on deck or in the aft con (rear conning area) when equipment is in use.
Marine Science Technician 1st Class Sean Kuhn does all of the jobs of an MST and, in addition, has a collateral duty (secondary job) as the Science Network Administrator. He supports the collection and storage of all the scientific data generated on board the ship during each cruise. I can really appreciate the work Sean does since he is the one who helped me back up all my files when I thought I might have lost them on my computer. My files are minor in comparison to the scientific data generated on this cruise.
Even if I am "alone" in the computer room above the science lab, I'm really not. Keeping me company is a 10" long, ¾ " wide giant black African millipede and her terrarium mates, five large hermit crabs. These are the only pets that are allowed on board (one crew member tried fish, but they got seasick and died), and they belong to Marine Science Technician Third Class Suzanne Scriven. In addition to her work as an MST, Suzanne is responsible for the Platform of Opportunity program for NOAA. She is the one who completes a report on all marine mammal sightings during the cruise. During our cruise so far, we have seen several seals (spotted, ringed and bearded), about 20 polar bears, lots of gray whales in Bering Strait, and even a possible narwhal that was close to the ship but tough to see as it rarely came to the surface. Hopefully Suzanne's interest in animals will help her to fulfill her dream of becoming a large exotic animal behaviorist.
Chief Petty Officer Mike Hamerski joined us about a week ago. He had been flown off the ship earlier in very bad weather for a distance of 150 miles. That was close to the maximum range of the helicopters and certainly not the usual flight conditions. Mike was medivacced (medical evacuation) off the ship to Shymea, Alaska for treatment of a kidney stone! Kodiak Island, Alaska, where Mike lives, is the size of the state of Connecticut and has a population of only 15,000 people. Mike loves Alaska and may retire here. His work on board is as assistant Chief of Science, a role that involves personnel management.
Marine Science Technician Second Class Bridget Cullers also has a collateral duty. She's the Hazardous Materials Coordinator for the ship. With science teams continually on board, this is an important job. Bridget must inventory and keep track of all the hazardous material on stored on board, and she must follow special regulations for disposal once the ship is back in Seattle. She makes certain all the materials the scientists need get on board and she educates the scientists about the ship's policies and procedures regarding hazardous materials. Bridget told me that the most common hazardous materials on board right now are two acids, hydrochloric and sulfuric.
One new MST came on board the ship by helicopter yesterday, but I have not had a chance to meet him. I wonder if he has any idea of the kind of work he'll be doing? I do hope he understands how important it is!
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