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!

On the East Coast

The view from the fantail of R/V Neil Armstrong. Active amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and four YP (yard patrol) boats are tied up in the background. Midtown Manhattan looms in the fog. The oceanographic equipment in the foreground includes a REMUS autonomous vehicle outfitted with SharkCam. Check out amazing footage, and see how it got those scratches, here http://www.whoi.edu/remus-sharkcam/hunterandhunted

I recently took a vacation to the East Coast, but couldn’t fully separate myself from R/V Sally Ride. Her sister ship R/V Neil Armstrong participated in New York City’s Fleet Week, so I got to see it as part of the Parade of Ships. It came down from Woods Hole, and lined up with aircraft carriers, destroyers, and other Navy ships to travel up the Hudson River, from the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge (see Twitter photo below). It then tied up at Pier 86, home of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Among other things, this museum showcases a retired aircraft carrier (USS Intrepid) and the space shuttle Enterprise, which was used only for test flights. Neil Armstrong was open for public tours during fleet week, and I jumped at the opportunity to scope out the differences between it and Sally Ride.

Neil Armstrong’s Medal of Honor is displayed on the bridge
of WHOI’s research vessel bearing his name.

Fundamentally, of course, they’re the same, and were made in the same shipyard. But there were some noticeable differences in how the crew and technicians that live and work there have set up their spaces. What on the Sally Ride is used as the electrician’s shop is assigned instead to the restechs on Armstrong, and their computer lab is more open lab space, instead of the server racks and desks for technicians on Sally Ride. The paint job is an obvious difference, with Armstrong’s house being a bit green instead of white. Officially it’s azure green, but is often referred to as “WHOI green” and has been used on all their modern research vessels. The memorabilia onboard is of course from a different famous astronaut, the first person to walk on the moon. Neil Armstrong’s Congressional Medal of Honor is on display on the ship’s bridge. The ship also has the fortified 01 deck and CTD hangar currently being installed on Sally Ride already in place. 

Sally Ride’s flight suit from her historic Challenger mission.

Another stop along the way was Washington, D.C., where I spent most of a day at the National Air and Space Museum. Always a favorite amongst the Smithsonian Institution’s amazing offerings, it houses a mind-boggling amount of vehicles and artifacts from throughout the history of flight. This includes some of Sally Ride’s personal effects, which were donated by her partner Tam O’Shaughnessy. The flight suit she wore on her first shuttle mission is there, complete with patches and the simple ‘Sally’ name tag she chose to wear. Displayed alongside it is the flight suit of Dr. Guy Bluford, the first African-American in space. Both historic trips took place onboard Challenger in 1983. 

An interactive exhibit at the Air and Space Museum, where kids are encouraged
to move each shuttle through its history-making lifetime of missions.

Sally Ride’s legacy, and that of the space program in general, will endure forever, and it’s an honor for SIO and WHOI to be a part of it. When Sally Ride returns from shipyard, there will be a display of memorabilia added, including a flight jacket similar to the one above, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded posthumously in 2013 by Barack Obama. Look for more on this in a future post!

March for Science!

“Science is essential for our community, for our world, for our economy. There is a distrust in the objectivity of scientific advice, there’s also a lack of understanding of why it’s useful. This rocks us to our core, those of us who understand and appreciate science. We can’t deny that something fundamental has just changed, and we can’t sit down in our corners and say nothing about it. This is not a partisan activity.”    – Dr. Lynne Talley at the San Diego March for Science

Students make posters as the ship leaves San Diego Bay.
Photo by Natalya Gallo.

At any time, there are Scripps scientists on research assignments all around the world. Saturday, April 22nd was Earth Day, and around the world millions of people participated in the March for Science. Fifth year graduate student, Natalya Gallo, wanted to make sure she marched in solidarity despite being out at sea. Just off the coast of San Diego, R/V Sproul was out for a day trip for a class where undergrads get to see what research aboard a Scripps ship entails. While transiting out to sea for a day of CTD casts, net tows, and sample collection, Natalya broke out supplies to make posters and the whole group gathered on the back deck for a photo op. As she explains, “Participating in the March (in some way) was really important to me, both as a scientist and a public citizen. Making posters with the undergraduate students provided an opportunity to talk about the role of scientists in society, how scientists interact with the public and policy-makers, and share my thoughts about the value of scientific engagement across all sectors of our society. With the many critical problems our society currently faces (climate change, fisheries sustainability, pollution, antibiotic resistance, just to name a few) it is essential that the scientific method is understood, respected, and valued, and that scientists play a central role in these conversations.”

Supporters of science gather in downtown San Diego before the March for Science.
Photo thanks to Scripps Oceanography Communications office.

Like Natalya, it’s important to me that everyone knows that they use and benefit from science every day. Do you check the weather forecast on you phone? That info comes from satellites and weather stations. The phone itself is a feat of engineering. The data connection and WiFi wouldn’t be possible without a scientific understanding of radio waves. This is just one example, there are countless others that maybe we don’t think of as being “science” – the eradication of diseases, electricity, brewing, baking – these are all the scientific method at work. 

At the San Diego event, Scripps Institution of Oceanography professors Ralph Keeling and Lynne Talley spoke to the crowd. Dr. Keeling studies carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere and is the “keeper” of the Keeling Curve, which has tracked increasing CO2 levels since 1958. Begun by his father, Dr. Charles Keeling, continuous measurements are taken at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii and show a drastically accelerating increase beginning when humans began to burn fossil fuels. 

In Lynne’s speech, she mentioned her faith, and growing up in a family
of engineers, teachers, and librarians. Photo by postdoc Isa Rosso.

Dr. Lynne Talley is an elected official of the AGU (American Geophysical Union) Ocean Sciences division and the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), both well-respected non-profits that promote cooperative research. In her speech, she got the crowd going with the chant: What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review! Which made my nerdy heart happy.

I have been to sea with Lynne as the Chief Scientist, traveling for six weeks studying seawater properties from the Antarctic ice edge up to the tropics. She is also a Lead Investigator of the SOCCOM (Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Monitoring) project, which deploys floats carrying sensors to study various ocean properties. The robotic float sends itself on casts down through the water column collecting data, and then it beams it back to land when it surfaces. Click here for a blog post I wrote when sailing on a SOCCOM cruise. Lynne says that she knows speeches from scientists “…are often too dry, give way too many facts, and don’t let emotion or their religious faith and principles creep in.” So instead, she made sure to cover “…what we are as scientists and what I believe, what do we know about the climate, what do we demand, and what can we do.” In addition to her participation in the march, Lynne spoke with KPBS about the importance of science – you can listen to that here.  

The March for Science aboard R/V Sproul.
Photo by Chris Welton. Header photo by Brice Semmens.

Scientists themselves don’t have all the answers, it’s a constant process of having ideas, testing them, and learning. The purpose of every science project is to better understand the world around us, and that is a worthy goal. And as Lynne said in her speech, “When I turn on that light switch, when I pick up my phone – that is not a political act.”

I enjoy bringing the science from R/V Sally Ride to you so that everyone can see the dedicated people behind the expeditions. Scripps Institution of Oceanography is full of people who love to explore and learn and share what they find. 

Thanks for your support!

A Swim for Science also took place, learn more here!

Check out this article about why UCSD staff, faculty, and students participated in the March for Science.


Net Samples Join SIO's Invertebrate Collection

Scripps Institution of Oceanography is home to some of the preeminent biological and geological collections in the world, which are important repositories for samples from around the planet. On a recent R/V Sally Ride research cruise, biological samples (animals, in this case zooplankton) were collected using two different types of net systems and then sorted for various experiments by scientists onboard.

Linsey (orange pants) works with the Ohman group to collect and process
samples from the MOCNESS (frame on the left, cod ends on the right).

The manager of the Pelagic Invertebrate Collection, Linsey Sala, was onboard to help with the work. The trip was only a few days long, which kept the team constantly busy. She assisted with the bongo net tows to collect and sort live specimens, which were used by the Barbeau lab for their trace metals experiments. She also worked with the Ohman lab to collect samples from all ten of the nets that make up the MOCNESS. It’s a long process to rinse down each net into its basket, called a cod end, making sure to carefully retain all the plankton. The sample is then transferred to a bucket and hauled into the wet lab to be processed and preserved, but that’s just the beginning of the work. Training students to properly collect, preserve, and store the samples is part of Linsey’s job when she’s at sea, as well as identifying pelagic organisms. However, she was never too busy to answer questions or show off a particularly cool specimen magnified under a microscope (see pictures below). She has a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of marine invertebrates and speaks in taxonomic terms, some of which I remember from my undergrad biology classes, but most of which I’ve since looked up. Instead of krill, worms, and jellies it’s euphausiids, chaetognaths, and scyphozoans.

Scientists sort live samples from the bongo nets.

In order to learn what happens to the samples once the ship returns to land, I recently visited the Pelagic Invertebrate Collection. Pelagic invertebrates are animals without a backbone that live in the water column, as opposed to bottom-dwelling, or benthic, invertebrates – which have their own separate collection at SIO. In the pelagic collection alone, there are over 137,000 sample jars, comprising more than a billion individual specimens. Tens of thousands of boxes filled with sample jars are vigilantly labelled (Linsey is clear that this is one of the most important parts of her job) and stored in earthquake-safe compact shelving. Included in the collection are thousands of reference specimens, kept on behalf of scientists who are considered experts in certain identified groups of marine invertebrates. Thanks to a generous donation, the collection is also home to a huge variety of nets, as different lengths, openings, and mesh sizes are optimized for sampling different types of organisms.

In the collection, Linsey ensures every sample jar, lid, and case
are properly labeled so specimens can be easily found.

As Museum Scientist and Collection Manager, Linsey is the main person working in this massive facility. With help from the curator, Dr. Mark Ohman, and an undergraduate assistant, she keeps up with cataloging the ever-expanding collection, responding to loan and species identification requests, providing specimens for SIO classes, and giving tours. A set of particularly interesting samples make up a small museum ready to be shown to visitors, housing everything from a 5-foot long Humboldt squid to Antarctic krill to larval lobsters. 

Linsey fields many requests from scientists all over the world to use samples from the collection. Many papers are published every year by researchers looking at the samples for their own purposes. When SIO graduate students, led by Miriam Goldstein, began to study the so-called garbage patch in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, they were able to analyze samples collected on CalCOFI cruises dating back to the early 1970s. Evidence of microplastics in these samples, as well as those collected on a research cruise conducted by the students in 2009 on R/V New Horizon, was the first definitive study of its kind that led to a deeper awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution in the ocean. Learn more here. As Linsey says, “While each expedition’s samples are collected with a specific focus, it’s always very exciting when we use archived materials to address a new hypothesis and continue to learn more about our oceans from these resources. Each sample is a unique snapshot in time of that window of the ocean that can answer a multitude of questions – some of which we haven’t even thought of yet.” 

(Left) Pregnant female copepod Euchirella pseudopulchra, eggs are blue, (middle) amphipod, an order of small crustaceans, and (right) a female
copepod of the family Pontellidae. Each animal is only a few millimeters in length and was photographed on the cruise using a microscope.
Photos thanks to Linsey Sala of the SIO Pelagic Invertebrate Collection.

Most samples are preserved in formaldehyde, which maintains the characteristics for visual species identification. Others are stored in ethanol, which keeps the DNA intact and can be used for genetic analysis. You may remember that on CalCOFI cruises, the sample from one side of the bongo net is preserved in each solution so that both methods can be used. The NOAA fisheries group that participates on those cruises takes the samples back to their lab first and sorts them. They keep the fisheries-related species – fish eggs and larvae, young cephalopods (squid, octopus), and lobster phyllosoma larvae (a specific stage in their life cycle). The rest of the sample is brought to the SIO Pelagic Invertebrate Collection.

Just one of dozens of shelves full of pelagic invertebrate samples.

On the day I visited, Linsey cheerfully rolled shelving units open to show me everything from the samples we collected on the recent Sally Ride cruise all the way back to the first CalCOFI trip in 1949. This time series data is an invaluable record of the ocean as it changes over seasons, years, and decades. When talking to her, it’s obvious that Linsey is inspired by the breadth of the collection, even though it means never-ending work for her. “These types of scientific natural history collections provide the opportunity for scientists and our community to study environmental health, our natural resources as it relates to fisheries science, climate effects on ocean ecosystems, and can provide materials for emerging technologies. Archiving and maintaining these well-preserved specimens allows us the possibility to access information from our past and present to better predict and direct our future.” 

As mentioned in a previous post, the scientists on the cruise collected samples concurrently with zooglider operations nearby. This autonomous underwater glider was developed at Scripps by the Instrument Development Group, in collaboration with Dr. Mark Ohman’s lab. It dives to a depth of 400 meters, using a zooplankton camera to capture photos that are used to infer the abundance of different species and a custom sonar to record zooplankton acoustic backscattering. Nets towed from R/V Sally Ride collected samples that are now part of the Pelagic Invertebrate Collection at SIO. As Dr. Ohman explains, “We took physical samples of zooplankton with an electronic opening-closing net (MOCNESS), to compare with the types of zooplankton imaged by the Zooglider camera. The MOCNESS samples have been accessioned into the Pelagic Invertebrate Collection and we are beginning to analyze them using a digital zooplankton scanner called a Zooscan.”  This scanner takes high resolution photos of the animals collected on the cruise, and a software program then classifies each into taxonomic groups for quantification.

Technician Emma lines the specimens up on the scanner (left), and then ensures image quality (right).

A technician named Emma Tovar oversees the process from start to finish. First up, the sample jar brought over from the collection is sorted into size fractions. Using small nets, specimens are separated into different jars – larger than 5 millimeters (1 mm = 1 thousandth of a meter) are classified as extra large, 1-5 mm are large, and less than 1 mm are small (see photos below). Emma then takes subsamples and arranges the specimens on the scanner. It looks similar to a normal flatbed scanner, but has a shallow pool of water on the glass. Emma is an orderly person so lines up all the animals in neat rows. This also helps the software separate and properly identify each. They are posed in a somewhat natural state, so that they will most closely resemble the photos taken of live animals by the Zooglider camera. After the scan is taken, Emma checks the images for quality, and then double-checks how the software has sorted them. It’s been developed over many years and is populated with images, from a few hundred to 20,000 examples of each type of animal. Emma has learned to identify all the usual suspects down to their taxonomic group. “I validate the images manually, sometimes it will be wildly off.” she says. The different-sized samples are then combined back together and returned to the collection.

Zooscan images of specimens collected in the MOCNESS. The extra large (left) category contains arrow worms, krill, jellies, ctenophores, and pyrosomes; the large (middle) contains mainly arrow worms, krill, jellies, and copepods; and the small (right) contains mostly copepods, krill larvae, and shelled pteropods – a type of free-swimming mollusc. Images provided by the Ohman lab. 

This is a look into the what happens with samples from one group onboard one research cruise aboard R/V Sally Ride. Just imagine how many people are at work in labs all around the globe based on expeditions on the Scripps research fleet!

Loading ROV Jason

A container is craned onto the back deck while food is craned into storage.

Picture 1 of 6

The CalCOFI cruise ended on a Tuesday, after successful completion of all 75 science stations. We arrived back at the dock before 9am that morning, and the scientists worked to offload their gear right away – everything was back at the labs in La Jolla by lunch time. Beginning the very next morning at 7am, a new group of scientists were at the ship ready to load their gear. ROV Jason doesn’t pack light – it took seven truck loads and the better part of four days to load the ship for this science verification cruise. The working deck and labs of R/V Sally Ride were completely transformed over that time, which also corresponded with the long Thanksgiving weekend. Technicians from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) worked with SIO techs and crew members over the holiday in order to set up all the infrastructure needed for the Jason ROV. Click here for a 360 degree view of the back deck setup for the cruise.

The ship got underway on Sunday and has a busy week planned. Click here to follow live video feeds from the ship, as well as science plans, thanks to the Inner Space Center. 

Check out these blog posts about the goings on during this cruise

Ecological Insights from ROV Jason

Experiments on the Seafloor with ROV Jason

ROV Jason visits the Del Mar Seep


Adventure on the HiSeasNet

Version 2R/V Sally Ride underwent many upgrades and additions during the month of October. The most obvious are two huge domes now on the flying bridge (the deck on top of the wheel house) that add uninterrupted satellite internet capability to the ship. Most other ships only have one dome and, depending on the ship’s heading, the signal to it can be blocked by the mast or stack. The Sally Ride has two so that it can switch back and forth depending on which is receiving the strongest signal.
A few weeks ago, techs from the HiSeasNet group at SIO assembled both, which consist of the outer radome shell, a stand with the electronic components, and the receiver dish. The assembled domes weigh over 1,200 pounds and had to be craned up to the top deck of the ship and bolted into place.

Assembly of each radome’s components took about a day each and required multiple techs, a forklift, and a crane.

The ship’s outline is now much different. Some of the other techs and I discussed what the domes reminded us of, and how it would be cool if we could paint them. To me, they look like hot air balloons, especially when in the strap harness used to crane them onboard. To others, seasonal updates like easter eggs or jack-o-lanterns would be the obvious choice. Suggestions from Twitter included a bathymetry helmet (very thematic), planets (perfect since Sally Ride wrote books about Earth and Mars), Totoro (just needs ears!), the Death Star (that’s no moon), and eyeballs, which would definitely give the ship a unique look.

Version 2
The radomes were installed on the flying bridge.

So far it does seem like the internet is faster out here, though I couldn’t post this yesterday due to so many people onboard trying to keep up with election results. The bandwidth from HiSeasNet can be increased for certain trips, like the upcoming Jason ROV trip which will include a test of telepresence links between the ship and Birch Aquarium. Stay tuned for more about that!

Fun with Flags

Version 2
View of downtown San Diego from the bridge of dressed up R/V Sally Ride.

If you were one of the over 4,500 people who toured R/V Sally Ride in late October, you saw the ship decked out in her finest – red, white, and blue bunting around the railings, with flags from bow to mast to stern. Called dressing, it’s a prescribed setup when showing off a ship for special occasions like a christening, commissioning, or retirement ceremony. The flags themselves, called the International Maritime Signal Flags, have a use and are carried on the ship’s bridge at all times. They can be run up the mast if other means of communication are unusable. A specific flag is assigned to each letter of the alphabet, plus the numbers 0-9. There are meanings assigned to each one, and pretty much everything a ship would need to communicate can be relayed with a 1-3 flag combination. There is a whole book listing the hundreds of things that can be communicated with just these flags, everything from “No” (N) to “I have had a nuclear accident on board” (AK) to “My cargo is dairy products” (SU2). 

According to the mates onboard R/V Sally Ride, there are only two flags that the ship is likely to fly solo: B(ravo) when refueling and H(otel), which signifies a pilot is onboard. A pilot is often required by a port of call in order to advise on the navigation of the ship through the channel and up to the dock. We are not required to use one in San Diego, but in most foreign ports one will join the ship via small boat.

Version 2
The open house during commissioning weekend saw over
4,500 visitors to R/V Sally Ride.


WIRED tour and unanswered questions

Scripps Ships Operations director Bruce Appelgate gave WIRED magazine a tour of the R/V Sally Ride while it was docked in San Francisco.  It was done via Facebook Live, so there were a lot of questions asked in the comments. The videos below cover many of them, and more have been covered already in other blog posts, but I’m going to get to some of the others below.

Click to watch the Facebook Live video tour of the ship.


Click to watch the video from WIRED posted a week later.

Question from Justin Moss: Top speed?

Answer: 12.8 knots. For sustained speed, 11.5 knots.

Monitors in the lab show real-time data from
the echosounders.

Q from Robert Focht: Can it explore to the bottom of the Mariana’s Trench ?

A: A few other questions were asked about the Mariana Trench in particular, which is the deepest part of the ocean at nearly 11,000 meters. The ship itself has to stay on the surface of course, but is capable of carrying instruments to be deployed to the seafloor. Most of the instruments usually used max out at 6,000m so specially designed equipment would be necessary. The multibeam echosounder aboard could be used to map the seafloor even at this depth.

Q from Dion Og: What sort of bottom scanning sonar/em sensors does the ship use?

A: The ship has two Kongsberg multibeam systems, an EM122 deep water system best suited for 1000 meters or more, and the EM712 for shallower water. There are also two Knudsen systems, a single-beam echosounder that operates at 12kHz and a sub-bottom profiler that operates at 3.5kHz.

Q from Myles Blackwood: What type of fuel does that ship use?

A: There are four 12-cylinder diesel engines aboard the Sally Ride. Each one is 1400 brake horsepower and generates 1000kW of power, which is converted to electricity that is used to power the ship’s propulsion, as well as everything else electronic on the ship. Take a 360 degree tour of the engine room here.

Q from Robert Kidwell: Why’s it named after Sally Ride?

A: I think astronauts and oceanographers have a lot in common – both groups of scientists are true explorers, studying the vast unknown in order to better understand how Earth is unique. Dr. Sally Ride was a professor at UC San Diego after retiring from NASA. Once the class of vessel and its sister ship were named after an astronaut, Neil Armstrong, it seemed like the perfect choice. More about the decision and christening of the ship here. 

The ship’s name plate.

Q from Joaquin Molina: Is this military or a civilian ship?

A: R/V Sally Ride is owned by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research and operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The crew is made up of civilians, though many of them are veterans of the armed forces. The scientists are also civilians, though may have funding from military projects along with other sources. More about this dynamic here. 

Q from Donald Brian Mix: Where was this ship built?

A: Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Washington built both the Sally Ride and her sister ship, the Neil Armstrong. Construction began in 2012, with both ships being christened in 2014 and arriving at their home institutions for the first time in 2016. The ships were built to the same specifications, though now that they’re in the hands of SIO and WHOI, small differences are likely to pop up in terms of instrumentation and equipment onboard.

Q from Judy Cash Lee: What is your next mission?

A: The first official science cruise is coming up in November. It will be the fall CalCOFI cruise, which is made up of scientists from SIO and NOAA. More about their test cruise here. Follow the blog for photos and posts from the upcoming cruise!

Q from Birch Hansen: What is the crew complement of the Sally Ride?

A: The ship has 20 crew members, you can check out more about the current group here. As mentioned in the video, Scripps does strive for a mix of male and female crew members. There aren’t currently any women assigned to the Sally Ride, but there are female crew members on other ships in the SIO fleet.

Q from Jason Vincent: How long can you stay out to sea at one time?

A: The ship can carry 140,000 gallons of fuel, enough for 10,545 nautical miles at 12 knots. The storerooms can hold 40 days of food assuming a full complement of 20 crew and 24 scientists.

And perhaps the most important question, from Oscar Torres Vazquez: Have you eaten tacos on the ship?

A. Yes, I have. Mexican food is an important part of the rotation on the Sally Ride. Being that her home port is San Diego, California, the cooks have access to excellent ingredients. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and huevos rancheros are all served aboard the ship on a regular basis.

Carnitas lunch aboard R/V Sally Ride

There are some more questions I will get to next week, so check back!

Making it Official

Dr. Tam O'Shaughnessy breaks a bottle of champagne against the bow of research vessel Sally Ride during an August 9, 2014 christening ceremony at Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. shipyard in Anacortes, Wash. O’Shaughnessy, the ceremonial ship's sponsor and long-time partner of Sally Ride, was joined on the platform by Dick Nelson, president oif Dakota Creek Industries; matron of honor the reverence Dr. Bear Ride; matron of honor Kathleen Ritzman, assistant director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego; Kathryn Sullivan, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research.
Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy breaks a bottle of champagne against the bow of research vessel Sally Ride during an August 9, 2014 christening ceremony at Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. shipyard in Anacortes, Wash. O’Shaughnessy, the ceremonial ship’s sponsor and long-time partner of Sally Ride, was joined on the platform by Dick Nelson, president of Dakota Creek Industries; matron of honor the reverence Dr. Bear Ride; matron of honor Kathleen Ritzman, assistant director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego; Kathryn Sullivan, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research.

The christening ceremony for R/V Sally Ride took place back on August 9, 2014. It’s tradition for a ship to be christened (given its name) as soon as it hits the water for the first time – and that a bottle of champagne is broken across her bow as part of the ceremony. This important role was performed by Dr. Sally Ride’s life and business partner Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, who will serve as the ship’s sponsor. This is another tradition, a female civilian is given the honor of bestowing luck and protection over the ship and her crew.

The decision to name the ship after the late Sally Ride came from the Secretary of the Navy in 2013. A few months prior, the R/V Neil Armstrong, the sister ship also being built in the Dakota Creek shipyard in Anacortes, Washington, was given its name.

The commissioning ceremony, when R/V Sally Ride will be officially drafted into service by the Office of Naval Research, will take place in late October. As part of the celebration, the ship will be tied up at the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego for the long weekend, and available for tours. This is your chance to come out and see the ship, roam its decks, and help welcome her to a long and productive life as part of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s fleet. Check out these links for more information, and bring the whole family!

Birch Aquarium member tours on Saturday, October 29 from 9-11:30am

UCSD alumni and affiliate tours on Saturday, October 29 from 12-4pm 

Public tours on Sunday, October 30 from 12-4pm

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Sunrise over downtown San Diego, as seen from the focsle deck of R/V Sally Ride.