Life Aboard a Scientific Research Ship

Adriane here – (well Adriane via Jen, anyway =])

Until the end of September, I am sailing aboard the research vessel JOIDES Resolution in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. I’m one of 33 scientists working on the ship, as well as staff and drillers. Altogether, there are 127 people aboard, working together as a community to make sure the ship functions, it’s clean and tidy, and that we’re conducting excellent science.

The JOIDES Resolution

The JOIDES Resolution leaving port in Townsville, Australia for two months at sea.
The JOIDES Resolution, or JR for short, is one of the most important research vessels sailing the seas today. The ship itself was built in 1978 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and runs off diesel, but generates its own electricity and has desalination equipment. Thus, we are never short of lights, power, or water. The ship was built for scientific ocean drilling, and has a drill tower mounted on it, called the derrick. Surprisingly, the ship can recover sediment from the seafloor through a maximum water depth of 27,000 feet! A few years back, the JR was in dry port for two years while it was being updated. Now, the ship has lab spaces for all kinds of scientists, with cutting edge equipment and machines to analyze the sediment cores that we recover from the seafloor.

Ship Life
Life aboard the ship is absolutely amazing! There are three meals provided for us everyday, and a few coffee machines scattered around. In addition, there are always cookies, snacks, and coffee in the mess hall. Another great feature about life on the ship is that the staff here does everyone’s laundry! In short, I’m getting spoiled by not having to cook, clean, or worry with laundry. But on the other hand, I am working 12 hour days every day until the end of September, where we will disembark the ship in Tasmania.

In addition to cake, there is also a coffee machine that makes lattes, mochas, Americanos, and hot chocolate.
The scientists work in two shifts so that we are continuously working 24 hours. The night shift is from midnight to noon, and the day shift from noon to midnight. I’m on the day shift, which was pretty easy to adjust to by going to bed later and getting up later. After our shifts end, there are plenty of things to do aboard the ship. The JR has its own movie room with a big screen TV, a pool table, and a nice collection of books. There is also a and a lounge with computers connected to the internet. We can’t get internet on our personal laptops because we have limited bandwidth available on the ship, most of which is used to conference with schools all over the world (we have two people sailing with us whose job is specifically to do education outreach through video chats, movies, and virtual meetings).

In the mess hall, there is a refrigerator that is always full of cakes and pies!
Scientists stay two to a room, where there is plenty of storage space, two closets, and a bunk bed. In the room is also a sink. Two rooms share a bathroom, which is located in the center of the rooms. The rooms never feel cramped, because the two scientists in the room work opposite shifts. But my favorite part about the ship is not the limitless cookies or fancy coffee machine; instead, it is the sense of wonder and amazement that come with being surrounded by ocean. When I am off shift, I love to sit at the picnic table at the front of the ship and watch the ocean, especially when we’re moving on a cloudless, bright night. The stars are unreal, as are the sunsets!

There’s nothing like watching the sun set over the ocean.

Interested in reading more on the work Adriane is up to? Check out these news articles about the project:

Follow the JR on Twitter here, follow Time Scavengers here, and Adriane here for the most recent information we have from Adriane’s JR experience!

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