By Jeanethe Falvey
There is so much more to this ship than meets the eye. On this research trip, I became enamored with a layer of this ship’s character that’s often overlooked.
Crew members frequently wear shirts defining “Bold” across the back. Talk to those who have been with this ship and it fits. It came to EPA as the USNS Bold (U.S. Naval Ship) and became the OSV Bold (Ocean Survey Vessel) in its second life. Though it has a better paint job and newer scientific equipment, it’s the same, strong, ship it always was. Considered safer and more versatile than its sister ships, because of the grit, sweat and dedication put into it day after day.
Some spend 11 months out of the year onboard, the Bold is home. Get them going and they’ll talk passionately about the biodegradable hydraulic oil they use to not harm marine life, saving and recycling the smallest bits and pieces. This ship opened their eyes to environmental protection they say. They love how it’s publicly accessible; admitting that being a small part of it makes them feel proud.
There’s “Chief,” who will quietly slip by, but is loaded with stories and more engine room time than most of us can fathom as chief engineer. He helped recover the Bold from Pearl Harbor’s “boneyard,” days before it became EPA’s vessel in 2004. You can see Warner’s dedication, looking quite at home in a blue mechanics suit and knee pads crawling within and maintaining the ships underbelly as it churns away better than most well oiled machines.
Descending into the engine room, I didn’t just walk down more stairs than I expected, I walked decades back into time.
Ear plugs muffled the noise, warm air blew. I thought I was in a different time entirely. Levers and knobs in the control room looked new but were built during or shortly after WWII. Engines looked just painted, the diesel tanks are coated from the inside out and redone as often as needed.
Walking into the heart of the Bold, I can appreciate how a ship acquires personality and how a crew grows so fond. “A ship dies from the inside out,” Chief says, “but an old truck maintained can still carry wood down the road.” I won’t jinx anything by saying more than this: the engineers say she’s got a lot of time left. Still going strong from a military to a civilian environmental job, here’s to hoping many steady years to come in her mission to better protect our environment; a great deal due to them.
About the author: Jeanethe Falvey, U.S. EPA Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, based in Boston, Mass.