10 February, 1998

Hi from the Ross Sea! Things are going well today on the Nathaniel B. Palmer. Thankfully, the seas are back to being very calm. We finished the Multibeam survey that we were working on and collected one kasten core. We now have about 10 more hours of Multibeam before taking two more cores. We are still in the Central Ross Sea, but we are quite a bit farther north than we were a day or so ago (we're now about 200 miles north of the Ross Ice Shelf).

A few days ago, in the February 7th journal, we looked at one of the Antarctic Support Associate (ASA) employees named Jim Holik who is the Marine Projects Coordinator (MPC) for this cruise. Today, we'll focus on two other ASA employees. They are the Electronics Technicians, who are more commonly called the ETs. ETs are responsible for the maintenance and repair of all the data acquisition sensors that are used on (or over the side) of the ship. In other words . . . if it's an instrument that collects data, they are responsible for it! They also must recalibrate all of those pieces of equipment and update the calibration sheets before the equipment is used for another cruise. For some trips, the scientists need equipment that is found in a portable laboratory. In that case, the ETs are responsible for hooking up the portable lab. They also help to operate some of the data acquisition equipment if their expertise or background is needed. Finally, ETs (just like all of the other ASA employees) help with "other duties as assigned." That means that they must do whatever jobs are necessary on the ship -- whether it's inventory or ping editing. These extra duties are assigned by Jim, the MPC.

The Senior Electronics Technician is 30 year old Tim Bjokne. Like Jim and the other "Senior" members on this cruise, Tim is a full time employee of ASA. He is from North Dakota, but he moved to Denver as a result of his promotion to Senior ET last August. He has worked for ASA since October of 1995 as an ET, but he was not considered full time. His additional responsibilities now include hiring/firing ETs (there are 6 contracted ETs working for ASA) and working with the MPC to make sure that the right equipment is on board for each individual cruise. With his new job, Tim will spend less time at sea and more time in his office in Denver. He will, however, parcticipate in at least one cruise each year as well as work on both the Nathaniel B. Palmer and the Lawrence M. Gould during their annual maintenance periods.

Tim received his Associates Degree (2 year) in Electronics. He went to work in the Gulf of Mexico aboard a seismic exploration ship for Western Geophysical Seismic Exploration Company. While working there, he met Barney Kane. Barney is the Senior Marine Technician on this cruise and also used to work at Western Geophysical. After about three years in the Gulf of Mexico, Tim went back to school to get a degree in Journalism. He graduated from Mankato State University and was hired to work for a small town newspaper in Minnesota. While he was still at Mankato State, he received a call from Barney -- who by now was working for ASA in Antarctica. Barney wanted to know if Tim was interested in working aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer. Since Tim was still in school, he said no . . . and told Barney to call him back in a year. To his surprise, Barney called him back a year later (while he was working in Minnesota). After much thought, Tim agreed to take a job as an ET in 1995 -- and he has been here ever since!

The other ET aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer is Jay Alan. Jay is 40 years old, and this is his first trip to Antarctica. He and his wife live in Melbourne, Florida. They have a 24 year old son who's attending the University of Florida at Gainsville and majoring in Computer Sciences. Although Jay has worked in the fields of both nursing and business, he has spent the last few years of his life contracting for marine-based jobs in the areas of electronics, electronic communication, and large power generation. His last contract was working for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) near Key Largo, Florida. Although they offered him a job, he and his family would have been required to move if he had accepted the position. After declining, they told Jay to call ASA about some contract work in Antarctica aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer. Jay was hired by ASA during this past December. On Christmas Eve day, he found out that he would be leaving on January 5th to work on our cruise. When we are finished, Jay will return home to Florida. He will be meeting the Palmer again this April, when it goes in for annual maintenance to Lyttleton, New Zealand. Jay is currently on a three month contract. Provided that ASA and Jay both agree, he could be offered a year's contract after this one expires. Typical ASA contract employees (part time employees) work about 6 months each year. For those working aboard ships like the NBP, that often means working for 2 cruises at a time (followed by 2 cruises off).

Tomorrow, we'll focus on the Marine Technicians (MTs) hired by Antarctic Support Associates. What do you suppose that Marine Technicians do aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer? Tune in tomorrow to find out! Until then . . . keep those emails coming!

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