Calendar

A week on the ship

Monday

Debby standing alongside the engines on the R/V Thompson.

0700
Breakfast.
0745
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.
0800
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.
0930
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.
1030
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.”
1115
Lunch.
1200
Check brush wear on main motors, a routine job in port.
1545
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.
2200
Return to ship.

Tuesday

Debby at the engineer's station during her watch as Third Engineer.

0800
Debby's day off. The chief engineer and Debby rent a car and drive around the island of Oahu.
1900
Arrive back at Honolulu.

Wednesday

R/V Thompson docked at the pier at the University of Washington.

0400
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.
0700
Breakfast.
0745
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.”
0815
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.
0900
Check around the engine room and machine shop to make sure all gear is secured for heavy seas.
1100
Start up both reverse osmosis water makers, which make potable water from sea water at a rate of 300 gallons per hour.
1145
Debby is relieved by the second engineer.
1200
Lunch.
1300
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.
1600
Equipment and personnel from the University of Hawaii come on board. Make phone calls home.
1700
Dinner.
1830
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.
1930
Get underway.
2345
Start second engineer’s watch.

Thursday

Debby on watch at the engineer's station.

0100
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.
0345
Relieved by first engineer. Go to bed.
0900
Wake up.
1145
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.
1430
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.
1545
Relieved by first engineer.
1700
Have dinner and watch movie.
1930
Take a nap.
2230
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.

Friday

Debby on deck in front of an instrument van on her way to the Sunday barbeque dinner.

0010
Continue watch. Docking completed. Propulsion is left on line to assist mates with maneuvering ship while buoy and other gear is removed.
0030
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.
0110
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.
0345
Relieved by first engineer. Read the Honolulu newspapers and go to bed.
1000
Wake up and take coffee out on deck while weather is still pleasant.
1145
Report for watch.
1230
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.
1300
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.
1545
Relieved by first engineer.
1600
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.
1800
Dinner.
1900
Do laundry, clean room, catch up on e-mail correspondence.
2030
Take nap.
2300
Wake up and get ready to go on watch.
2345
Relieve the third engineer.

Debby Ramsey

  • Third Engineer, R/V Thompson
  • University of Washington

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