A week on the ship
- Report for third engineer’s watch in main control room, to relieve first engineer. Debby is responsible for all engineering spaces for the next four hours.
- Put bow thruster, another main engine, and back-up auxiliary engine on line, in preparation for arrival in Honolulu harbor. This equipment is necessary whenever ship is maneuvering in tight spaces.
- Docking is completed, at Pier 2C near the Aloha Tower. All propulsion equipment is shut down. One auxiliary engine is left on to provide power for lights, etc.
- Put away engineering parts that arrived in Honolulu. In port the watchstander must stay on the ship, respond to all alarms and “keep the lights on.”
- Check brush wear on main motors, a routine job in port.
- Debby's relief, the chief engineer, arrives. He will stand watch the next eight hours. Debby leaves the ship for dinner and shopping with the other engineers.
- Return to ship.
Debby standing alongside the engines on the R/V Thompson.
- Debby's day off. The chief engineer and Debby rent a car and drive around the island of Oahu.
- Arrive back at Honolulu.
Debby at the engineer's station during her watch as Third Engineer.
- Debby gets up to call her son in Seattle, two time zones later than here, to wish him a Happy 15th Birthday before he leaves for school.
- Report to engine room for watch. The ship is preparing to depart on an 8 day transit to Seattle. It may take longer, if winter storms in the north Pacific slow the ship down too much. There are no scientists on board, so the trip is called a “dead head.”
- Start up propulsion system for maneuvering out of Honolulu Harbor. As soon as the sea buoy is cleared the propulsion is reconfigured for cruising at 13 knots.
- Check around the engine room and machine shop to make sure all gear is secured for heavy seas.
- Start up both reverse osmosis water makers, which make potable water from sea water at a rate of 300 gallons per hour.
- Debby is relieved by the second engineer.
- Nap. Ship turns back to Honolulu. A research buoy has come adrift in Hawaiian waters, and the University of Hawaii has requested that the Thompson recover it.
- Equipment and personnel from the University of Hawaii come on board. Make phone calls home.
- Debby is notified she will be sailing as second engineer. One of the engineers has to fly home. This means more responsibility and a different watch schedule.
- Get underway.
- Start second engineer’s watch.
R/V Thompson docked at the pier at the University of Washington.
- Give fuel report to bridge, one of the duties of the second engineer. This is an account of fuel and water levels in all thirty four tanks on the ship, as well as consumption of fuel and water in the previous 24 hours.
- Relieved by first engineer. Go to bed.
- Wake up.
- Report to engine room for watch. Buoy recovery is proceeding slowly. Thousands of feet of line are possibly tangled up beneath it. The propellers are not turning, the line could wrap around them and cause crippling damage. The bow thruster is able to maneuver the ship.
- Deckhands have the buoy safely tied down on the stern deck. The bow thruster is turned off, another main engine is put on the line, and the ship reaches top cruising speed.
- Relieved by first engineer.
- Have dinner and watch movie.
- Take a nap.
- Wake up as ship is being prepared for arrival in Honolulu. Go to work an hour early, to help third engineer and chief with arrival, and to help retrieve equipment loaned out to scientists.
Debby on watch at the engineer's station.
- Continue watch. Docking completed. Propulsion is left on line to assist mates with maneuvering ship while buoy and other gear is removed.
- Bridge wants to know how much fuel oil is currently on board, as harbormaster has requested the information. The fuel report shows 151,000 gallons left, just over 50% full. The ship used 4000 gallons on Thursday.
- Depart for Seattle. A back-up generator is put on line until we have passed the sea buoy. Speed is increased to 12 knots. It is 2400 miles to from Honolulu to Seattle.
- Relieved by first engineer. Read the Honolulu newspapers and go to bed.
- Wake up and take coffee out on deck while weather is still pleasant.
- Report for watch.
- Fire and boat drill. After the chief engineer arrives in the engine room, Debby goes to her station at the damage control locker where she helps an oiler put on his fire-fighting suit. The crew goes through a fire-fighting drill and a drill to abandon ship. Debby's job is to help prepare the rescue boat for launch.
- Back on watch. The oiler and Debby continue on the maintenance project for the day, servicing an auxiliary diesel engine. This is similar to the tune-up and filter change done on automobiles, except the engine is several feet high and holds 140 gallons of oil.
- Relieved by first engineer.
- Start on an overtime project, repairing malfunctioning window wipers on the bridge. These need to be fixed before the ship hits the heavy and continuous rains of the North Pacific in January.
- Do laundry, clean room, catch up on e-mail correspondence.
- Take nap.
- Wake up and get ready to go on watch.
- Relieve the third engineer.
Debby on deck in front of an instrument van on her way to the Sunday barbeque dinner.
- Third Engineer, R/V Thompson
- University of Washington
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