Being one of the two Education Coordinators on this Alvin cruise has been a great experience in the fact that I have been able to see and learn about so many things on the ship that I probably would have never known about had I only been doing research. For instance, Brandon Jones (the other Education Coordinator) and myself were recently taken into Atlantis Engine Room by Chris Haines, the First Engineer. Our behind-the-scenes tour allowed us to find out more about Chriss background and see how the ship really operates.
Chris attended the Maine Maritime Academy and began sailing in 1991. Although he only began working on Atlantis about a month ago, he has a long record of work experience on ships such as this one before, including past work on the Knorr. Chris will only be on Atlantis for a short time he currently is on a leave of absence from his job on a ready receive ship in Wilmington, North Carolina, and he plans to return to that job on December 1st. According to Chris, there isnt much training involved with learning the ropes of a new ship because once you understand the basics of how to run the Engine Room on a large ship, that knowledge usually carries over to other ships.
The Engine Room crew consists of the Chief Engineer, the First, Second, and Third Engineers, and the Oiler. All of the crew are on a day work schedule, with shifts from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Each person goes on a rotating watch every third night where they wear a pager in case of an emergency. The pager is hooked up to the Engine Room and would report any emergency that occurred. Because of this, Atlantis Engine Room is considered to be an unmanned Engine Room.
Since Brandon and I had a first-hand tour, I will give you a short run-down covering the basics of what the Engine Room entails and how Atlantis works. Basically, the Engine Room is responsible for generating electricity, this electricity is used for the engine, the engine turns the propellers, and the propellers thereby move the ship.
Atlantis Top Speed: 15 knots
Engine Room Components:
Touring the Engine Room on a ship like Atlantis was really a good experience, and one I probably wouldnt have ever thought of doing before this cruise. If you ever have the chance to go behind-the-scenes on a ship, definitely do it. Not only does it give you a much better idea of how the ship works, but it is also a lot of fun.
A Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) is not someone you would expect to see 1,200 miles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, especially handling lines or operating a loading crane on a 273-foot research vessel. But Edwin Estaniel does both of those things and more while operating as an ordinary seaman (OS) aboard the Atlantis. He has only been working at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) since May 2000, but he says he enjoys working with the Atlantis crew because of the good food, good movies, and the fun science crews that are aboard at any given time.
Some of Edwins duties aboard the Atlantis include general ship maintenance (chipping, painting, cleaning, etc.), line handling, assisting in deployment and recovery of scientific equipment, operating cranes and helping during Avon operations (the Avon is the small zodiac boat that assists the Alvin during launches and recoveries).
Edwin began his career on the water in the Philippines where he worked on cargo and bulk tramp ships. The company he worked for hauled logs, steel, grains and other materials to all parts of Asia including eastern Russia. In 1993, Ed moved to the United States (Los Angeles) and began working in a convalescent center. He started taking CNA classes and eventually took a position at famed Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. The neat thing about the whole situation was that Edwin never let go of his seafaring dream. Edwin would work on local cargo ships, and when he was off from sea he would work at Cedar Sinai. Talk about occupation transitions! Edwin handled it with no problem.
In 1999, Edwin began working on inter-lake steamships in the Great Lakes (hauling ore and minerals for steel production). Afterwards, he continued his work at the hospital for a few months, and eventually, through a job-finding service, he found and took an OS position on board the Atlantis. His first cruise was in May 2000 and he has been with the WHOI fleet ever since. Within a years time, Edwin has been to Costa Rica, Panama, Bermuda, Portugal, Mexico, and many western U.S. ports. His favorite port stop was in the Azores, and he is looking forward to visiting that port again, as well as many others.
Chief Engineer, Kevin Fisk, hails from Seekonk, Massachusetts, and is a 1986 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy with a B.S. in engineering. He began his career with WHOI as a Junior Engineer aboard the Oceanus in 1986 and then moved on for a six-month stint aboard a union vessel. After returning to WHOI, he worked his way up to chief engineer while serving on the Oceanus, the Knorr, and the Atlantis (his present vessel). Kevin now resides in Sagamaw Beach, Massachusetts, with his wife, Patricia, and baby daughter, Meredith.
One of many engineering challenges while at sea is the water issue. Ironically, the ship is surrounded by an almost infinite amount of seawater, and of course none of it usable by humans. Additionally, buying and loading enough fresh water for a given cruise would be extremely expensive and almost impossible to store. However, there has to be water available to wash dishes, clothes, and gear, as well as provide enough shower and drinking water for everyone aboard the ship. There are two methods Kevin and the engine department use to tackle this obstacle. The first involves using a low-pressure evaporator to heat the pumped seawater to a point where it begins to separate into its various components. During this process, the released steam condenses on cooler tubes above the evaporator and is collected as fresh water. After the leftover briny slush is pumped back into the ocean, what remains is potable freshwater (~20 gallons for every 100 gallons of seawater). The second method uses reverse osmosis to remove any salt and impurities by forcing seawater through a series of membranes. This method generates ~65 gallons of freshwater for every 100 gallons of seawater.
Aside frommaking water, Kevin is also responsible for all machinery aboard the Atlantis. That includes everything from the washing machines, to the large A-frame that hoists the Alvin during launches and recoveries. Basically, he and his team of three engineers and one oiler have the job of making the ship run. Not only maintaining the engines (that actually make the ship go), but also the electricity, the plumbing, the air conditioning, and the water systems. Kevin and his team must be prepared to address a whole host of problems which, on any given day, may include a faulty stove in the galley, a clogged drain (that could back up the entire vessels plumbing system), or a possible problem with one of the deck cranes used to lift gear on and off the ship. When dealing with this much equipment, there is never a dull moment and every day brings a new challenge.
During scientific cruises, one of the most important and involved jobs aboard a research vessel is that of the Bosun. A bosun is basically the deck foreman aboard a vessel, and the responsibilities seem endless. They include deploying and recovering scientific instrumentation, handling and loading of all gear, overseeing all rope and line work, tying up and letting go of the ship, anchoring, overall sanitation, cleanup, and general maintenance of the vessel, and finally, in the case of the Atlantis, assisting in the launch and recovery of Alvin.
It takes a special person to work confidently in multi-tasked situations, and not many aboard the Atlantis are more qualified for the job than Wayne Bailey. As the Atlantiss bosun, Wayne really enjoys the daily challenges of rigging problems and the comradery of the deck crew when doing a job. Overall, he likes to do things well, and he has a very talented team of people working with him that make it possible. Wayne also enjoys the various foreign ports and places he gets to visit. Some of his favorites are Japan, Taiwan, Scotland (friendly people), and anywhere in the South Pacific.
Wayne is originally from Fairport Harbor, Ohio, but now resides in San Diego, California. Because he grew up about 20 miles outside of Cleveland right on Lake Erie, his love for water was cultivated at an early age. His career on ships began in 1974 when he was a bedroom steward (cabin boy) aboard a deep-sea freighter. After one year as a bedroom steward, Wayne spent the next seven years as a deckhand (three years as an OS (ordinary seaman) and then four years as an AB (able-bodied seaman). After working his way up, Wayne served as bosun aboard a freighter and the Henry James William Fay (a combination freighter/research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico). He is a 20-year WHOI employee and has served as bosun on the Atlantis II and the Atlantis.
The title Master Unlimitedmeans that Atlantis captain, George Silva, can sail any ship on the high seas. Well, maybe not aircraft carriers and other naval vessels, but certainly any size research vessel, commercial tanker, or freighter. For 22 years, Georges career has allowed him to visit ports in Alaska, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean (including Bermuda), Asia, Africa, and Central America places that most people read about or only see on television.
George enjoys working in the relaxed atmosphere of the WHOI fleet for several reasons. Mainly, the overall independence of his job and duties is great. Some other perks include the absence of the hustle and bustle when in port on commercial business, working with diverse groups of people, the feeling of contributing to mankind (through the scientific research), and the fact that the Atlantis and Alvin crews are so family-oriented.
Feeling like he is part of a family helps make the captains daily duties a little less stressful and a lot more gratifying. When asked for a duty title, George says he kind of sees himself as the ships general manager. The organization (ship) could run without him, however, he is the (voice) for the Atlantis crew and the (management representative) for WHOI if the need ever arose. A large portion of the captains responsibilities is clerical and administrative (e.g., handling payroll, interfacing with customs agents, etc.). Being in charge on a submersible tender like the Atlantis, George also takes the con (control of the bridge) during the launch and recovery of submersibles like Alvin.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, George has been around the water most of his life. He graduated from Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1979 with a B.S. in marine transportation, and immediately began work on container ships, tankers, and dredge vessels as a 3rd mate. Over years of working on New England tugboats and ferries, and doing commercial dredging for the Army Corps of Engineers, Georges service has ranged from 3rd to Chief Mate and ultimately Master. WHOI has had the pleasure of his service aboard the R/Vs Knorr and Atlantis since 1995.
When asked about performing marriages and burials at sea, Capt. George says he really does not know about such vested powers for captains. However, he does keep a copy of the Good Book on board ship.
Noel Masias, one of the Alvin submersible technicians, has led an incredibly diverse life. Born in Taiwan and growing up as an Air Force military brat, nearly half of Noels childhood was spent in the Philippines and the other half in numerous countries all over the world. His parents later moved to Sacramento, and it was here that Noel graduated high school. After high school, Noel spent much of his time trying to figure out exactly what it was that he wanted to focus his life on. He attended a number of different universities and held an array of jobs, which included being a firefighter, doing electrical and mechanical work, working for a company that produced cryogenic freezers for blood products, and working for Hewlett Packard.
Noel joined the Navy in 1986 and spent the next nine years as a West Coast Sailor, doing a slew of different jobs during this time. His last tour was out of Hawaii, one of his favorite places, and he was able to spend three and a half years there. Noel wanted to get his degree, and felt that in order to do this, he would have to get out of the Navy. So, in 1994, Noel left the Navy, but signed up as a Reservist. He began school at the Devry Institute of Technology, in Phoenix, Arizona, and worked toward earning his B.A. degree in Electronic Engineering Technology.
Throughout his schooling, however, Noel became somewhat disenchanted with the instructors and education he was receiving and began to work part time for Honeywell. Soon he was offered a permanent position, which he quickly accepted. One of the best parts of the permanent position was the opportunity to take advantage of the Tuition Assistance Program. With this monetary help, Noel eventually earned his degree and graduated in November 2000. At this same time, however, Honeywell was in the process of being bought out and many employees were becoming discouraged with the situation.
As chance would have it, one day at lunch while surfing the Internet for a site on The Whos music, Noel accidentally typed in WHOI instead. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions Web site popped up on the screen and caught Noels interest. Back in 1991, Noel had applied for a position at WHOI and had an interview, but things didnt work out. Now that he had much more experience and training behind him, Noel decided to give it another shot. His interview went well, and he was hired in 2001 as the newest member of the Alvin team.
Now he is in the process of becoming a Pilot In Training (PIT). Noel said that many of the days out at sea are full of interesting, and many times frustrating, events which force you to think quickly on your feet and work through difficult problems you never thought you would be able to solve. Other days, however, make you realize how much you love your job. For instance, Noel is one of the swimmers on the Alvin team, which means that often times he goes out on the Zodiac boat during launches and recoveries of the sub and gets in the water to prepare for Alvin leaving the boat and/or coming back on board. It is an exciting and coveted position, and things like this make all of the difficult aspects of his job seem worthwhile. Especially exciting for Noel is the fact that he will have the opportunity to do his first Alvin dive this trip on October 29th.
In other news, at the very start of this cruise, Noel received a phone call on the ship informing him that he has been recalled to active duty as soon as he returns to land. So once Atlantis docks in Manzanillo, Noel is off to find out his orders for the Navy. He said he knows he will be back and looks forward to the chance to continue his training. Noel said that this is the last opportunity for him to do something like this, and he wants to make sure he takes advantage of such an opportunity while he can. We all wish him the best of luck with all of his endeavors!
Larry Jackson has been the chief steward on two of WHOIs research vessels, the Oceanus and currently, the Atlantis. His career at sea actually had terrestrial origins in the mountains of New Hampshire. While hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1985, Larry stopped at the Pinkham Notch Camp in New Hampshire. He liked the lodge so much that he took a job there as cook and did not leave for three years. Afterwards, he prepared family-style meals in various ski resorts and lodges for the next seven years.
One would think Larry studied in the best culinary programs to be hired on the spot in New Hampshire (not to mention working on WHOI research vessels for almost eight years), but that is not the case. Larry actually went to school for auto body and then joined the Marine Corps for three years. During his time in the military, Larry enjoyed having mess hall duty because he liked to eat. What better way to nourish a love for eating, but by learning to prepare his favorite foods? He also was able to gain sea service in the military, which gave him leverage when he applied for the Atlantis position.
Larry started as mess attendant in 1994 aboard the Atlantis. His first task was a daunting one, for he came aboard ship the night after new years in Acapulco, Mexico. That brought a whole new meaning to the words mess attendant. However, that was not enough to deter him, and after only a month he moved from attendant to ships cook. After an 8.5-month stint on the Atlantis, Larry debarked and upon his return was offered the chief stewards position.
Larry describes his ship responsibilities as doing the things that would make an ordinary house run smoothly.Some of these things (actual duties) is providing meals, making up menus, handling food, taking care of ship laundry when in port, and most importantly, ordering provisions. Larrys list of provisions is somewhere in the order of 1000 items, including paper towels, garbage bags, cleansing products, and COFFEE! He says that coffee is more important on the ship than toilet paper. What most people may not know, is that someone onboard the ship is awake (working) around the clock, and people need their coffee, they want their coffee.
Traveling, port stops, ocean sunsets, foreign cuisine, and the neat scientific tidbits are just some things Larry loves about his job. However, his obvious love is cooking. Bread is the most fun to prepare because you can make designs and all types. Seafood is Larrys favorite food to eat and old-fashioned American hamburgers and hot dogs are the easiest to fix. Iceland, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, and Easter Island (his favorite port) are just some of the places Larry has had the privilege of visiting. He says that cooking on the high seas is a challenge, and since being on board with Larry, this reporters expanding waistline is a testament to Larry meeting the challenge.
Peter (P. J.) Leonard
R/V Atlantis 2nd Mate
Interview by Jenny Jeffers
Being a native of Colorado myself, imagine my surprise at the start of this interview after finding out that P. J. Leonard is originally from my home state, and that he grew up only about 25 minutes away from me! P. J., the Second Mate aboard the Atlantis ship, was born in Denver, Colorado and graduated from East High School in 1991. He then attended the Massachusetts Maritime Academy from 19911995, during which time he held a couple of very interesting internships. His school operated on a schedule of two semesters on campus and one at sea. His first internship while at sea was working for the Board of Local Inspectors for the Panama Canal. He would assist in conducting accident investigations and to this day, this experience is really the only true desk job he has ever held. His second internship was working for ARCO, which consisted of working on oil super tankers coming out of Valdez. This internship allowed P. J. to travel frequently, and as of today, he has now been to 32 different countries around the world.
After graduating from the Maritime Academy, P. J. worked in Alaska as the Second Mate aboard passenger ships that traveled around the Alaskan Inside Passage. After a year of this work, he moved on to hold the position of Mate (one of two on the ship) on dredging ships. He worked all along the United States Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, was responsible for two six-hour watches each day, and spent two years gaining invaluable experience.
P. J. then moved on to work on Mobils foreign flag supertankers. During this time, he earned his Marshall Islands and Liberian licenses. This job required P. J. to spend up to five months at a time on the open ocean. The ships were massive, though, at about 1,100 feet long and 220-280 feet wide. After spending two years at Mobil, P. J. earned his Second Mates license.
P. J. has been an employee for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) for the past year and currently holds the position of Atlantis Second Mate. He has a diverse range of responsibilities as the Second Mate, including being responsible for the navigational aspects of the ship. This includes taking care of and repairing equipment, writing cruise plans, making sure all navigational charts are updated and correct (which is usually done weekly), and drawing track lines, just to name a few. His shifts are the 12 4 a.m. and the 12 4 p.m. watches, and he is always eager to have some company on the Bridge in order to make the time pass a little quicker!
During a usual year, P. J. will spend about six to eight months at sea, and he enjoys being on the water. He said one of the best aspects of working on Atlantis is the fact that the ship does have some time in port between expeditions. During his careers on commercial ships, he never had a chance to have port stays, and really does find that part of his current job important. In addition, P. J. feels that the quality of life is much better on a science/research vessel than on a ship hauling oil, in addition to the work being morally correct. P. J. also enjoys the fact that his job is constantly changing, as no two expeditions are the same. All in all, P. J.s job aboard Atlantis is filled with travel, interesting work and people, and changing goals, all of which makes one look forward to what will happen next!
R/V Atlantis 1st Mate
Interview by Brandon Jones
If 1st mate Mitzi Crane had to impart any nodule of advice for todays young people it would include a very strong request not to become discouraged when unsure of a career path. If you have a dream and you are in tune with that dream, then you will recognize when the doors of opportunity open for you. Mitzi speaks from experience.
One of four girls, Mitzi was born in the Philadelphia area, and was raised for most of her life by just her mother (her father passed away when she was very young). With a fondness for famed, ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, she began her trek towards an ocean career by minoring in marine biology at nearby Juniata College in Central Pennsylvania (she majored in French so that if she ever met Mr. Cousteau, she would be able to communicate with him). However, after college since there was no money for a graduate education, she had to take on odd jobs to help defray her undergraduate, tuition costs.
After waiting tables, chambermaiding, and other low-wage positions, Mitzi eventually went into banking, where in 6 years she went from teller to branch manager. Mitzi realized there would be a limit to her success in banking. So after attending a life-planning seminar, and upon encouragement from a friend, she enrolled in the Maine Maritime Academy in 1980 at age 31. Some colleagues called her crazy, some called her courageous, as for Mitzi she did not even know if she would get seasick.
She graduated in 3 years and immediately went to sea working for 13 years on tramp tankers as 3rd mate, 2nd mate, and finally chief mate. Tramp tankers are like the independent truckers of the shipping world. The company Mitzi worked for transported everything from grains and food products to crude oil and cat feed (various petroleum products). The ship she worked on was one of the first American ships to take grain to Russia after the fall of communism in 1989. After the company went out of business in 1996, Mitzi went to work as chief mate for a bulk cargo company until 1999. Later that year she came to work here on the Atlantis where she has been Chief Mate and at times Captain.
As Chief (1st) Mate on the Atlantis, Mitzi wears a lot of hats. One of her main priorities is to stand watch from 4 8 a.m. and 4 8 p.m. During a watch she has to steer the ship, look out for other vessels, and coordinate any deck operations that may be going on. When she is not on watch she is the ships safety officer, chief medical officer, hazardous materials check person, deck department coordinator, and environmental concerns manager. One of the highlights of Mitzis time on board the Atlantis was going on an Alvin dive (May 2000).
Continue to follow the path that life lays out and you will eventually end up with your dream. In a roundabout way, Mitzis dream has come true.
Williams is originally from Florida, but he has been living in Seattle,
Washington, for the past 10 years. Jack serves as the cook aboard the
research vessel Atlantis. He has been cooking since 1972. He received
his training from a European master chef and worked his way up to head
chef in 1989. For the next five years, Jack was head chef at various country
clubs and restaurants in New York City. From 1995 to 1998, Jack worked
as a cook aboard tugboats that transited between Washington and Alaska
in the Bering Sea. 1999 was the first year Jack started working on research
vessels, and it was so enjoyable that this year he took the job of cook
aboard the Atlantis.
A really interesting fact about Jack is that he is an accomplished songwriter. Jack is really good friends with and has written songs for singer/songwriter and folk-rock legend Richie Havens. He has also written songs (some of which went gold) for Greg Allman, Uriah Heep, and the Oak Ridge Boys. He has also had the privilege of working with Pete Townsend and The Who. Jack is a definite example of how multi-faceted some of the Atlantis crew members are.
Photo Caption: R/V Atlantis cook Jack Williams shows off what must be the worlds largest loaf of bread baked at sea! Now that would make one big submarine sandwich, wouldnt it?