11 August, 2003
I awoke today to find the Palmer on station during a CTD cast of the rosette. That's nothing new, of course, since we are approaching our 300th of the cruise. And the scientists will be on the rosette drawing their water samples and down-loading the LADCP data within minutes of its recovery in the ship's Baltic Room. But there is another group of talented and hard working individuals that contribute to each cast's success, namely, Raytheon's technicians and analysts.
Before every cast, two or more of these technicians scrutinize all of the rosette's scientific apparatus as well as prepare each water bottle for "firing" at the appropriate depth. Repairs are made if necessary, sensors and cables are inspected, and the rosette is cleaned from any foreign material that may have been brought-up with the previous cast.
Once the rosette is ready, the marine technicians must coordinate with the bridge and one of the ship's winch operators to successfully conduct the cast as they help guide the rosette and all of its equipment out the Baltic Room door and into the water off the starboard side. During this time, they monitor the angle on the rosette's wire, which may last up to 4 hours or more for deep water stations, making sure that every thing proceeds as it should. Sometimes they must lean out the door over the water to push chunks of ice with a long pole that may have drifted into the wire holding the rosette that is below the surface. Should anyone worry, they always wear flotation gear, safety lines, and hard hats while performing these difficult tasks in sub-freezing conditions. And every so often, after already completing the work described above, they must head outside on deck to deploy the Bongo Net. These casts go to either 100 or 1000 meters depending on the water's depth. Not only is it very cold out there in the wind, but handling the rather fragile net always involves lots of icy water and even some unpleasant slime (plankton or jellyfish).
What I described above, however, is largely what I see them doing from my perspective on the science team which is usually when we're finishing-up with drawing our water samples. Before we are even done, the Raytheon technicians have already arrived in the Baltic Room to get the rosette in order for the next cast.
As you might suspect, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. There are two electronics technicians that take care of most of the instruments and cable connections that go into the various lab areas. They often have to replace various apparatus on the rosette depending on the nature of the cast which in turn means the new gadgets have to be checked-out to ensure everything is connected correctly. There is also an analyst that runs the Palmer's multi-beam sonar system which charts the sea bottom as we go and produces some interesting maps in the process. And a network administrator troubleshoots and maintains the ship's computers, e-mail, and data archiving. There's even a marine "science" technician that helps to keep the ship's chemical stores and laboratory areas in order. (I also want to apologize in advance because I know that there's much more to what they do than I described here.) And there is quite a bit of overlap with each helping the other and so on.
Perhaps most remarkable, however, is that these intrepid Raytheon technicians labor under some fairly harsh conditions for long hours at a time, but not once, not one single time, have I ever heard one them complain or voice some disgruntlement. Indeed, at least one technician's near continuous laugh throughout each cast can be heard by whales in Hawaii. Plainly put, these folks really enjoy what they do. All of the Raytheon workers, without exception, talked about how much they liked the travel and being out to sea. Antarctica, in parcticular, was high on everyone's list. Many of them will be heading down there this coming winter; that is, for the Antarctic summer.
Herewith is a little about the Raytheon technicians themselves:
1. Jesse Doren, a marine technician from Colorado that has worked several years for Raytheon and parcticipated in nearly 30 cruises of one kind or another;
2. Jenny White, a marine technician from California with a degree in Molecular Biology that worked as a scientist in Antarctica while studying phytoplankton that entailed SCUBA diving under the ice before working on the Palmer;
3. Emily Constantine is parcticipating as an intern marine technician from New York that is completing her geology degree at Colgate University and previously collected sediment cores in Antarctica on the Palmer's sister ship Gould;
4. Eric Hutt, the marine science technician from North Carolina with a degree in chemistry that worked on fishing boats in Alaskan waters before Raytheon;
5. Brent Evers, a electronics technician with Master's degrees in electrical engineering and business who now calls California and his 35 foot sailboat home when he isn't at sea for Raytheon;
6. Gerry Bucher, electronics technician that has worked for Raytheon since 1987 from Wyoming who lectures on computer science at a university near his home when he's not on a cruise;
7. Jim Waters, a network administrator with a computer degree from Stanford University who, for now, calls Jackson Hole, Wyoming home, and will obtain his glider's pilot license shortly after this cruise; and,
8. Kathleen Gavahan, the senior analyst who worked as a geophysicist for over 20 years before obtaining a Master's in computer information systems that has been with Raytheon for 7 years and will complete a circumnavigation around Antarctica on an upcoming cruise this winter.
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