We’re all currently living onboard the JOIDES Resolution (“JR” for short), but we’re still in port in Singapore getting ready to leave for the open ocean on the 4th December. We’re all raring to get going but this preparation phase is actually super important in ensuring the success of the whole expedition.
It’s a huge job to make sure all the necessary equipment, fuel and provisions are on board for the 2 months we spend alone in the ocean, and we have to make sure we’ve got it right before we leave. For example it can take over a day to refuel the JR, as she can burn over 40 tons of fuel a day when cruising (aren’t you glad you don’t have to pick up the bill for that?!). We also need to take on all the fresh and frozen food we’re going to need to feed 120 people for 56 days at sea.
You don’t want to get out to the middle of the ocean and realize you’ve forgotten the coffee, as that’s a sure fire recipe for a mutiny.
The temporary inhabitants of the vessel like me are also taking the time to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the ship (all seven decks of it!) and to learn how all the various drilling protocols and safety measures work. I’ve sailed before on the JR in 2009, but it’s still good to have a refresher.
So who is this “we” I keep referring to anyway? Who’s on this ship?
Well, this really is a multi-disciplinary effort comprising scientists, sailors, technicians, drillers, engineers, cooks, cleaners and more!
I’m one of 30 scientists on Exp. 353, and we come from all over the place. There are 26 member countries of IODP, and onboard the JR this time we have people from 10 different countries (Japan, Korea, USA, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Italy, China, and Sweden!). So this is an amazing opportunity to meet new friends and colleagues as we all work towards our common scientific goals.
The sailors include the Captain and First Mate and all of the people who actually control and keep the ship afloat and keep us all safe. A pretty important job I think you’ll agree. They work together with the scientists and the drillers to make sure we achieve our mission objectives.
The drillers (or “roughnecks” as they are affectionately known) are the magicians of the expedition. They manage to guide the heavy drilling pipe down through thousands of meters of water and bring back pristine mud cores from the deepest ocean floor. And all from a boat that can be moving up and down in the waves by more than 5 meters! Amazingly talented guys.
These guys really run the show round here. They know this ship inside and out, and some of them have been on more than 60 expeditions with IODP! They help the scientists to process and deal with the sediments and the equipment, which really makes our jobs out here possible.
Cooking, laundry, and other support staff:
While we’re on the JR, everything is done for us by a great team of JR support staff. These guys do all our washing and make sure we have 3 (sometimes 4…) hot, delicious meals a day. Not a bad trade-off for 56 days of continuous work if you ask me.
I’ll do more detailed bios on certain specialties and people later, but for now I’ll leave you with this parting image…. which of these activities on tomorrow’s schedule is the odd one out?