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At Sea with the Bold: Sub hunting…?

2008 October 2
Two staff members, Margot Perez-Sullivan and Margaret Ford, joined nine environmental scientists and the crew of EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold to document science and research in action. Read the blog posts by Margot Perez-Sullivan from our San Francisco office to get an in-depth look at some of what’s involved in protecting our waters.

Day 4 (9.8.08):

First full day at sea. Got to sleep in a bit this morning, until about 8, so I missed breakfast, but lucky for me the mess deck is stocked with all kinds of good food so no one will go hungry. I’m hearing that we’re close to our last sediment grab which puts us way ahead of schedule.

Since we were so ahead of schedule, this morning, Margaret and I thought it would be great to talk to some of the crew on the boat and talk to people about life at sea.

Silouette of BoatworkerThe crew is pretty diverse with 16 men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Many of the crew got into the maritime industry because of a parent or relative. They all seem to like their jobs and are very accommodating to EPA staff. It must be strange to live on a vessel that has a different people coming and going year-round, but they don’t seem to mind and are very personable.

We started with Captain Jere. He’s an excellent captain, a real character with an eclectic background and a hard New England accent, which I love. He reminded me of why I stayed in New England for so long after college. Captain Jere told us that he used to run this exact kind of ship, it was called a T-AGOS back during the Cold War when it was used as a submarine hunter. This is a man that really knows his ship – he also told us that there used to be a “burn room” within the dry lab. Burn rooms on submarine hunters are stainless steel rooms where all the top secret documents are kept – if the ship was compromised, one of the crew dashes to the burn room, flips a switch and the entire contents of the room go up in flames while maintaining the vessel’s integrity without causing a ship-wide fire. VIDEO: See the burn room.

Photo of bunkroomWe got a chance to take a tour of the galley, commonly known as a kitchen on land. The chief steward, Amanda, is very accommodating to different dietary needs and makes us some very tasty meals. No one goes hungry on this ship!

It’s funny; boats have different names for everything. Boats don’t have ropes, they have lines. If something is secured it means it’s not working. It’s not a ramp, it’s a gangway. It’s not the cafeteria, it’s the mess deck; it’s not the kitchen, it’s the galley. It’s not the toilet, it’s the head. The bridge is where the Captain and his mates steer the boat from and where all the navigational equipment is housed. Port is left and the color is red, starboard is right and the color is green. The different colors are lit on each side respectively while the boat is at sea so that other ships can tell which direction we’re heading. ….the list goes on and on…

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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