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Blog June 17, 2010:
Challenges - Equipment and Weather

Ed Bowlby
Chief Scientist Leg 1

Daily safety meeting on the bridge of the NOAA Ship McArthur II with (left to right) Chief Scientist Ed Bowlby, Chief Bosun Brad Delinski, Operations Officer John Petersen, and Commanding Officer Greg Hubner.  Photo courtesy of NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
Daily safety meeting on the bridge of the NOAA Ship McArthur II with (left to right) Chief Scientist Ed Bowlby, Chief Bosun Brad Delinski, Operations Officer John Petersen, and Commanding Officer Greg Hubner. (Photo: OCNMS)
During the June 16 morning briefing between the ship's captain, the operations officer, the chief bosun, and myself, as chief scientist, we all look at the wind and sea condition to determine if it is safe to conduct operations for the day. It doesn't look good, either for safe operations with crew and scientists or for putting our scientific equipment at risk. Swells are running 11-12 feet and winds gusting up to 30 knots. So a mutual decision is made to scrub mission operations for the last day and last night, since weather forecasts show increasing winds and seas. And even our scheduled destination for end of Leg 1 is too risky due to high swell conditions. So we abort what would have been the last mission for Leg 1, to head to Port Angeles to off-load people and equipment and to receive the new science team for Leg 2.

Science team discussion in the dry lab of the NOAA Ship McArthur II with (left to right) Peter Etnoyer, Sean Rooney, Jennifer Bright, Colby Brady, and Ed Bowlby.
Science team discussion in the dry lab of the NOAA Ship McArthur II with (left to right) Peter Etnoyer, Sean Rooney, Jennifer Bright, Colby Brady, and Ed Bowlby. (Photo: OCNMS)
Leg 1 has been extremely challenging, both for equipment issues and weather. But our science team and ship's crew pulled together to at least successfully conduct one ROV survey day and two AUV surveys out of a total of five scheduled days in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. We'll begin post-processing this data to add to our incremental understanding of what types of seafloor and oceanographic conditions produce best habitats for deep-sea coral and sponge communities.

Heavy seas curtailing ROV and AUV operations off the NOAA Ship McArthur II.
Heavy seas curtailing ROV and AUV operations off the NOAA Ship McArthur II. (Photo: OCNMS)
Now it is up to the Leg 2 team to continue the operations down in central California. We wish them the best, though the forecasted weather conditions don't look favorable. This is what makes working on the ocean always a challenge.

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