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Tangaroa Blog #3 Noon til midnight

Preparing for the first deployment of the Japanese instrument 3

After nearly 10 hours of sleep following my seasickness, I caught up on the meeting that I had missed from last night and learnt that I was going to be on ‘watch’ from noon til midnight until all the instruments have been recovered and deployed.

After a few minutes on the bridge I quickly nominated myself to be on watch on the deck, for the fresh air and less swell movement. Thankfully, unlike me, Jen my ‘watch’ partner is feeling perfectly fine and was happy to be on the bridge.

With Jen on bridge and myself on deck, we act as the link between the crew and science staff on deck doing the deployments and retrievals, and the captain and science staff on the bridge.

We (Jen more than me) make sure that everything is recorded and noted down so we have an accurate record of what has occurred for writing up the trip report later.

Tonight, on our shift, we retrieved two of the Japanese instruments off the coast of Gisborne and deployed one more Japanese instrument, which will be collected sometime next year.

Retrieving instruments involves sending a message down to the instrument to tell it to return to surface while the ship is about 1 km away from the instrument. This ensures that the instrument doesn’t accidentally hit the ship on it way up.

Then once it’s on surface it’s a matter of locating the instrument. Each of the instruments has a beacon and a strobe light attached to make it easier to locate in the dark.

The Captain then has the difficult task of getting close enough to the floating instrument for the crew to pull it on board the ship. Once it’s onboard it’s given a quick fresh water wash down and then it’s hooked up to a laptop to check that it’s working.

Before deployment the science staff give the instrument a check to make sure everything is working. The crew then put it in position on the deck and once we’ve double and triple checked the ship is in the right position it is winched over board and dropped into the sea.

It takes sometimes up to an hour for the instrument to reach the bottom. Once the scientists know its on the seafloor, the ship then moves at least 1 km out from where it was dropped and a survey is carried out to determine its position on the seafloor.

Instruments are deployed and retrieved around the clock and so at midnight the next shift takes over and works to noon. Time for bed!

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