Notes from the Field

The current project on R/V Sally Ride has made SIO’s photo of the week! I’m currently assigned to a different research vessel in the Southern Atlantic Ocean working and writing for the SOCCOM project, so it’s hard to keep in touch with the goings on of the ship. Apologies for the lack of regular posts. There are ongoing posts and pictures from the ships and planes involved here.

Based on a report from UNOLS master technician Drew Cole, who is working as a restech, 42 moorings were deployed from Sally Ride in a matter of days. Now underway are surveys using the ship’s sonars and a few additional ones that the science party has mounted in various ways. This includes an ADCP on a pole and a profiling instrument on a heavy-duty fishing reel that measures turbulence, among other properties. 

Scientists ready for a night-time deployment from the ship’s stern.

A report from Chief Scientist John Colosi: 

“The R/V Sally Ride is well into week 2 of our observations of the dynamics of the inner continental shelf just south of Pismo Beach. We have been dividing our time between two distinct inner shelf environments. One location, Oceano Beach, is a straight sandy-bottom coastline, and the other location, Point Sal, is a complex rocky headland with outcrops, promontories, and a large pocket beach. These location choices help our groups to dis-entangle the important dynamical processes associated with beach inner shelf interactions such as rip currents and surface waves, internal waves which are like surface waves except they exist within the ocean water column, wind driven circulation such as upwelling and down welling, ocean eddies which represent the “weather’’ of the ocean, and topographic effects.

 “The experimental effort would not be possible without an extremely capable and collegial group of scientists from SIO, NPS, OSU, and UW. With over 170 moorings measuring temperature, ocean currents and mixing, 3 large vessels (R/V Sally Ride, Oceanus, and Sproul), 4 small boats R/V Kalipi, Sally Anne, Sounder and Sand Crab), 2 airplanes from SIO and UW, and coastal radar supplied by SIO and OSU, there is a dizzying amount of equipment involved in this work.

 “Some highlights of the work so far include wonderful observations of energetic bore-like and short pulse internal waves with beautiful turbulent wakes and associated biological activity, headland wakes and eddies and their associated complex re-circulation patters, strong upwelling and eddy activity due to a major wind event, and observations of vorticity (circular water motions) from 5 vessel synchronized surveys along the 10-50m isobaths.

“Our delightful experience of the inner shelf is that every day is different and the various dynamical processes at work, tides, wind, waves, turbulence, and topographic effects, evolve as a complex, but understandable pattern that has been a joy to observe.’’

Blog posts and pictures from the scientists onboard are also here.


Sally Ride, Team Player

R/V Sally Ride is finishing up mooring operations for Chief Scientist Dr. Bill Hodgkiss and will soon be headed back to port. It’s another quick turnaround, the ship heads out next week to an area just off the coast of Southern California between Point Conception and Avila Beach. An ONR (Office of Naval Research) funded project, scientists will be aboard from Scripps, Oregon State University (OSU), University of Washington (UW), and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey. And it won’t just be Sally Ride at work. OSU’s research vessels Oceanus and Kapili will also be in the area, as well as SIO’s Sproul. Small vessels and even aircraft will be part of the joint effort as well.

This intensive observing effort is part of a multi-year effort to to better understand the “inner shelf”, the part of the coastal ocean offshore of the surf zone but onshore of the shelf break (where the ocean depth plummets to hundreds and thousands of feet).  This area is governed by unique but complex physical processes, including wind-driven circulation, upwelling, breaking waves, wakes and instabilities, and internal waves (that ride on density interfaces below the surface). The map on the left shows the study area, with various symbols representing sites for wave observations, sonar surveys, drifter and mooring deployments, wave gliders, quadpods, bottom landers, ship’s radar, and even drone flights with an infrared camera. More on how all these technologies work together to tell a story coming in future posts.

The scientists will collect every feasible bit of data they can. Combination of all of these observations will help them both understand the basic processes, and use that understanding to improve forecast models of the coastal ocean.

A variety of aerial images of the work site add data on properties of wind, waves,
and currents. Photo credit to Gordon Farquharson (UW).

For her part, Sally Ride will deploy twenty-two moorings during the course of the cruise. These are done during daylight hours to make the operations safer and easier. Overnight and then for an intensive period after the mooring deployments, the ship will conduct ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling), density, and turbulence surveys to study these complex phenomena. You may remember another internal wave project performed aboard R/V Sally Ride, check out this post to learn more.  

Stay tuned! Co-Chief Scientists Dr. John Colosi (NPS) and Dr. Jennifer MacKinnon (SIO) will be blogging on this page, as well as Sproul’s Chief Scientist André Palóczy (SIO). There are also blog posts here. And for all the details you could possibly want, check out the publicly available experiment plan.


The Study of Sound

Technicians Gabriela and Jeremy deploy a surface buoy. Below the surface is a
thermistor string, along with floats and weights to keep it vertical in the water column.

Dr. Bill Hodgkiss is back aboard R/V Sally Ride, along with engineers and technicians from his group at SIO’s Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL). As with their cruise last year, which was the ship’s first official science verification cruise, they have brought along multiple instruments used to study acoustics off the coast of Southern California. On that cruise, the moorings were anchored to the seafloor using old train wheels. This expedition, however, focuses on drifting moorings that are not anchored. Instead they are connected to surface buoys with GPS for keeping track of its position, as well as lights and a beacon to aid in recovery.

The sound source is deployed and towed behind the ship for a few hours
each day.

In order to calibrate the acoustic instruments deployed, a sound source is towed behind the ship. The known noise level and distance from the recording devices puts every other noise recorded into perspective. CTD casts are also performed on a regular basis in order to provide a sound speed profile (more on the importance of that in this post). An echosounder survey was also conducted in order to determine the properties of the seafloor (see more about the Chirp system here). 

This science party has been aboard a few times, and always puts Sally Ride through her paces, using ship’s equipment such as the crane and A-frame, as well as the CTD and many other shipboard science systems. Not to mention the bridge crew who navigate the ship with the necessary precision and help look out for floats upon recovery. Thankfully, the Hodgkiss group also come prepared and have a lot of experienced hands, so it’s time well spent.

 

 


Shipyard Upgrades In Action

R/V Sally Ride has successfully completed two science cruises since leaving the shipyard last month. The first involved visiting a research site in the Gulf of Alaska in order to switch out long-term moorings. That cruise off-loaded in Newport, Oregon and the ship then headed to San Diego. Multiple Scripps technicians were onboard for the transit south in order to tie up loose ends (in some cases literally) and get the ship ready for the demands of a CalCOFI cruise. The seasonal trip fills the ship’s staterooms and labs with scientists and uses pretty much every capability – from underway sampling to deployments to sonars. And on this cruise, Dr. Uwe Send’s group also loaded up a buoy and other instruments as part of an opportunistic mooring deployment. So it was a very full ship!

The new main lab setup. For pictures of the lab before the shipyard changes,
check out this post http://go.ucsd.edu/2xd27W2

You may remember that the CalCOFI group was also aboard Sally Ride for their fall trip last November. So they were able to compare the ship as it was then, after just a few science verification cruises, and now, after the shipyard period. What made the most difference to them was the reconfigurable lab spaces. Gone are the rows of narrow tabletops with cabinets above and below, replaced with custom-made easy to move nesting tables of varying sizes and heights. They come with the extra perk of storage space underneath and it’s a necessity at sea that everything be easily secured. The tables bolt into the floor, the lab has holes every two feet in a grid pattern, and gear can be screwed into the tabletop or strapped to the frame. “The new tables are great!” says CalCOFI Chief Scientist Jen Wolgast, adding that it made it much easier for the various groups aboard to have the work areas that they needed while sharing limited space. “It’s nice to be able to get to all sides of the tables, it lets people move around easier,” said LTER scientist Shonna. I’m glad to hear that the new lab setup is working well, and can’t wait to see how each science party customizes it.

The forward area of the wet lab, now with a watertight door leading
out onto the deck near the CTD sampling area. Note CalCOFI’s famous
espresso setup – they know how to live.

The wet lab also got an update. As outlined in a previous post, the name was a bit too literal at first. Sister ship R/V Neil Armstrong was first out of the yard, and reported water making its way into the wet lab through the rolling door connecting it to the starboard working deck. Now, that door has been converted to a solid wall and instead there’s a watertight door that leads from the forward part of the wet lab out onto deck. Chief Scientist Jen Wolgast reports, “We used the door from the wet lab to help with landing the CTD, it’s in the perfect spot to assist with getting the rosette right where we need it in order to sample all the way around.”  

The forward 01 deck also got reinforced so that containers can be housed there, both for storage and additional lab space. This was quite an undertaking in the shipyard, and there are dramatic photos of the transformation in a previous post. A second ladder (stairway, see header photo) was added from the forward focsle deck, so that there’s still easy access no matter where the containers are placed. No science group has needed that extra functionality yet, but you can be sure that once they do, you’ll see pictures of it here. 

 


Commissioned Art on the Ship

Living and working aboard R/V Sally Ride involves a lot of transiting through hallways and stairwells to get between labs, staterooms, the lounge, the galley, etc. One could be forgiven for not noticing the beautiful piece of artwork in the main stairwell, but it would be a shame. Commissioned by Sally Ride herself, artist Adam Koltz created a masterpiece in his style of drawing ships over nautical charts and, in this case, a sky chart. Tam O’Shaughnessy, Sally’s partner and the ship’s sponsor, donated it to the ship and it makes a gorgeous addition. 

The artwork on display in the stairwell of R/V Sally Ride. By Adam Koltz. Gifted by Tam O’Shaughnessy.

Tam recently told the story to UCTV for an upcoming special about the new ship. As she explains, “[Sally] had this idea and so she talked to the artist, Adam Koltz, and said, ‘I’m Sally Ride.’ And he knew who she was once he heard the name and so they came up with this plan. The Space Shuttle Challenger was named after the H.M.S., (Her Majesty’s Ship) Challenger. And it turns out that the H.M.S. Challenger actually did the first study [where] scientists were aboard. They did the first study of the world’s oceans so it couldn’t be more appropriate for the R/V Sally Ride. One of my duties being the ship’s sponsor was to give a gift to the ship and when that came to mind it’s like, ‘What could be more perfect?'” 

Indeed it is a wonderful parallel that the shuttle to carry Sally Ride to space on her historic flight in 1983, and again the following year, was named for a sailing vessel that undertook the first global marine expedition. From 1872-1876, Challenger travelled 68,890 nautical miles. Guns and other Naval equipment were traded for labs and extra bunks, so that oceanographers and naturalists could do their work aboard. One of the tasks was sounding, which determines the depth of the ocean using little more than a weight on the end of a rope. The deepest known area in the Mariana Trench is called the Challenger Deep, and James Cameron’s vehicle that reached it is Deepsea Challenger, both named after the ship who’s crew first made those readings. In case you’re wondering (I was), Challenger measured a depth of 8,184 meters in 1875, multibeam data now says it’s 10,984 at its deepest, and Deepsea Challenger landed on the eafloor at 10,898 meters.

 

 

 


A Quick Turnaround

Last week R/V Sally Ride returned to San Diego after months away. But that doesn’t mean that the ship or her crew got much of a break. Within 72 hours, they were underway again. The summer CalCOFI research cruise will spend 17 days at sea, occupying 75 science stations to collect data as part of its historic data set. 

The marine mammal acoustic team readies their array, while restechs
and technicians from Uwe Send’s lab bring a mooring buoy aboard.

First up, there was lots of gear to unload from the shipyard period. The ship’s crane alternated moving this off onto the dock, and bringing on gear from the many groups that participate in a CalCOFI cruise. It is a full ship, with the labs and staterooms full of scientists. The back deck is more crowded than usual, home to mooring instruments from Uwe Send’s group that will be deployed once all the usual station work is complete. This is a project of opportunity that is part of a NOAA-funded array making observations in the CalCOFI region

The crew also had a few projects to complete, so everybody pitched in to get the ship ready. 

You may remember that Sally Ride hosted the fall CalCOFI cruise last November. To learn more about the science taking place onboard in the next few weeks, check out these posts from that time.

Science Focus: Hydrography

Science Focus: Fisheries

Science Focus: Marine Mammal Observations

Science Focus: Long Term Ecological Research

Science Focus: Plankton sensor

Project of Opportunity: Quantifying Carbon Export

 


Reunited in Newport

This week, two of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s research vessels – Sally Ride and Roger Revelle – were in Newport, Oregon in order to offload gear. Both Oregon State University and NOAA have wharf facilities on Yaquina Bay, where their own research vessels live, and scientists from those institutions (among others) were aboard the SIO ships. Sally Ride just completed a successful mooring switch-out in the Gulf of Alaska and Revelle is being used to launch WHOI’s ROV Jason (who you may remember came aboard Sally Ride back in November) on a series of research expeditions this summer. 

R/V Sally Ride (left) and R/V Roger Revelle were both tied up in Newport, Oregon this past week. Photo by UNOLS technician Tina Thomas.

Though there are a few ways to distinguish the ships from each other, the easiest is the placement of their HiSeasNet internet domes. As you can see in the photo above, Revelle‘s is up at the very top of the mast (right), whereas Sally Ride has two on the deck above the bridge

The tides and currents getting in to Yaquina Bay can be pretty extreme, requiring planning in order to navigate safely in the channel and under the arch bridge that spans the bay as part of scenic Route 101. Large ships like the research vessels time their entries and exits for the “stand of the tide.” Also known as slack water or slack tide, this is the time in the tidal cycle where water is neither ebbing nor flowing. If there’s any delay, the ship has to wait close to six hours for the next window of opportunity.  

R/V Roger Revelle (left) photographed by Sally Ride‘s Chief Engineer Paul Bueren as it arrives in Newport. R/V Sally Ride (right) as it departs Newport. This was photographed by restech Josh Manger from the deck of Revelle at the same time the header photo (top of the page) was taken by Chief Mate Wes Hill from the deck of Sally Ride.

Many crew members in the Scripps fleet have worked aboard both research vessels at some point in their career, so there’s a lot of overlap, camaraderie, and friendships among the crews of Sally Ride and Revelle. There were excursions around town while both ships were in port – to see the sights, eat excellent seafood, and of course visit the local brewery. 

R/V Revelle has a few more trips in and out of Newport in the coming weeks, but R/V Sally Ride is now on her way home to San Diego. Stay tuned to the ship’s social media pages for pictures of her triumphant return after months away!


Mooring Work in the Gulf of Alaska

R/V Sally Ride is back out at sea after months of upgrades in the shipyard. This first research cruise has scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Oregon State University working on site at an array of moorings in the Gulf of Alaska to recover and deploy anchored strings of oceanographic instrumentation.

Illustration of all the equipment monitoring station Papa.
From OOI’s website.

Station Papa has been a community study site for nearly 70 years and currently supports multiple mooring strings, including a NOAA surface buoy. The OOI (Ocean Observatories Initiative) has been deploying three moorings there since 2013. Once a year, a research vessel full of OOI scientists and technicians makes the trip in order to change out equipment. This year’s trip aboard R/V Sally Ride will recover and deploy replacements of all three OOI mooring strings. All three deployments have taken place and recoveries have just been completed successfully. Each deployment takes up a whole day of work, as they are over 4,000 meters (two and a half miles!) long. They sit on the bottom of the ocean, weighed down by a 6,000 pound anchor, and reach to either 30 or 150 meters below the surface. Check out an earlier post about moorings, back when the ship was in science verification mode, for more details about how scientists use the ship’s equipment to deploy and recover instruments. 

Technicians prepare to deploy a WFP, which travels part of the mooring wire
to sample at different depths. Photo by UNOLS technician Tina Thomas.

There are multiple sensors on each string, including for temperature, salinity, oxygen, fluorescence, turbidity, and density. CTD casts are taken with each deployment in order to calibrate the new sensors using those connected to the rosette frame. Water from the bottles is analyzed in the lab onboard as well. One of the moorings has two WFPs (Wire-Following Profilers, the yellow instrument in the photo on the right), each of which travels up and down a certain part of the wire, sampling throughout its assigned portion of the water column. Each mooring also has sonars to measure backscatter. The large orange spheres in the photo below contain acoustic sensors. A sound wave is produced, and the reflection recorded, from which plankton and other biological populations can be determined. These are similar to the fish finder sensor that Sally Ride has mounted to her hull. 

R/V Sally Ride‘s fantail is part storage (anchors at far left) and part working deck (the anchor to be used for this deployment is in place at the edge under the A-frame) during mooring deployments. The orange spheres house sonar equipment, and the yellow ones are floats that keep the mooring string straight in the water column and bring the instruments to the surface when it’s time for recovery. Photo by UNOLS technician Tina Thomas.

With scientific work completed, R/V Sally Ride has started transiting to Newport, Oregon for offloading. It will then head south to its home port of San Diego. A busy schedule of cruises kicks off with the summer CalCOFI trip. More on that soon!


Back to Work!

The final steps of the new paint job were done with the
entire ship under cover. Photo by 2nd Mate Randy Christian.

R/V Sally Ride is back in the water after two and half months in a shipyard dry dock in Alameda, California. As you may remember from previous posts (here and here), there was a lot of work done to the ship during that time. Everything on the to-do list has been completed, including the addition of a CTD hangar, a reinforced forward 01 deck, and a new paint job. The crew is excited to have the ship back, and took her out in San Francisco Bay for a series of sea trials to make sure all the systems are working properly.

Scientists are now onboard and loading their gear for a research cruise. It will be a mooring trip out to Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) array at Station Papa, which is in the Gulf of Alaska, about halfway between Seattle and the Aleutian Islands. As with other mooring trips aboard R/V Sally Ride, this one will include the deployment and recovery of instrumentation designed to spends months to years in the water column.  

The transition time between shipyard work and this research cruise is brief, so everyone has been working flat out to make it happen. It’s gone from the seeming chaos of just a week or two ago during the final stages of work in the shipyard to the orderly setup of the working deck, where every piece of equipment is secured in place and ready to head out to sea.

What a difference a week makes! The back working deck of R/V Sally Ride towards the end of shipyard work (left, photo by restech Keith Shadle). The walkway is actually the top of the ship’s A-frame, which is in maintenance mode, lowered all the way onto the deck. On the right, taken this week, all that clutter is gone, the A-frame is in its usual configuration, and mooring gear such as anchors and floats full of instrumentation have been loaded and secured in place. (Photo by 2nd Mate Randy Christian, note the lovely San Francisco skyline in the background.)

At the end of this cruise, R/V Sally Ride will return to her home port of San Diego, where there’s a busy schedule of research cruises for the rest of 2017. We hope you’ll follow along!

R/V Sally Ride is back in the water after two and a half months in a shipyard dry dock. As 2nd Mate Randy put it "…as…

Posted by UC San Diego R/V Sally Ride on Saturday, July 1, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 


She is with us

Most scientists that I know are passionate people because they’re working in a field that they’re interested in. And the environment you work in is important. So if you’re on an expedition in the high seas and you’re on a ship like this that is comfortable, that is gorgeous but functional in a very beautiful way…it just facilitates the good work and helps the scientists.”  – Tam O’Shaughnessy

People around the world know the name Sally Ride. Her legacy is so much more than America’s first woman in space – she was an advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and an expert that NASA called on long after her retirement. Her name on the ship’s stern, and in every data file the shipboard instrumentation creates, means that we at Scripps will never forget that we are carrying on part of Sally Ride’s legacy. But there will soon be another addition that will keep her in the forefront of our minds. Tam O’Shaughnessy, co-founder of Sally Ride Science and Sally Ride’s life partner, has generously donated some personal effects to be housed in a shadow box on the ship. 

Sally Ride’s flight jacket.
Donated and photographed by Tam O’Shaughnessy.

This includes one of her NASA flight jackets and patches from both of her missions aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Also included is a copy of the “Ride Report,” officially known as “NASA Leadership and America’s Future in Space.” The report came from a task force led by Sally Ride and was issued in 1987. Among other things, it called for learning about Earth from outer space. As you may recall from Tam’s speech intended for the ship’s commissioning back in October, Sally Ride’s space flights led to her future environmental work. “Mission Planet Earth” is what she called it, later writing a book for kids of the same name. Tam donated a copy of that book, as well as “Mission: Save the Planet,” both of which they wrote together and were co-published by Roaring Brook Press and Sally Ride Science.

Mission patches and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Donated and photographed by Tam O’Shaughnessy.

 

Rounding out the shadow box aboard R/V Sally Ride is the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded posthumously by President Barack Obama in 2013.  Tam accepted the award in an emotional ceremony that acknowledged Sally Ride’s heroic legacy and her relationship with Tam. As the president said, “Sally didn’t just break the stratospheric glass ceiling, she blasted through it. Today, our daughters — including Malia and Sasha — can set their sights a little bit higher because Sally Ride showed them the way.”

You may remember from a recent post that sister ship R/V Neil Armstrong houses that astronaut’s Congressional Gold Medal on the bridge, awarded to each member of the Apollo 11 crew in 2011. Neil Armstrong was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Richard Nixon in 1969 upon returning from the moon. Tam says, “The Medal of Freedom is really a beautiful medal…it says Sally K. Ride on the back and I just decided ‘All I’ll do is keep this medal in the safe in my house, so why not have it be part of the shadow box?‘” Scripps is grateful for Tam’s generous gifts. On display aboard R/V Sally Ride, they will be admired by a generation of scientists, many of whom grew up with Sally Ride as a role model, and all of whom are expanding on her legacy. 

Quotes from Tam O’Shaughnessy are thanks to Shannon Bradley and UCTV, who interviewed her aboard R/V Sally Ride. More from that interview coming to UCTV later this summer, so stay tuned!