Section I: Welcome Aboard

In order to make your stay aboard more enjoyable and productive scientifically, you are requested to observe the following guidelines:

  1. The Coast Guard requires that Fire and Abandon Ship drills be conducted every week at sea. During these drills and in the event of an actual emergency you are to wear your life jacket, hard soled shoes, long-sleeved shirt, long pants and some form of head covering. This is for your protection. Your muster and duty stations are found on the station card attached to your bunk. Drills are taken seriously. Listen carefully to the deck officers' instructions.
  2. Safety is of the utmost importance. Please wear a work vest, hard hat and work suit as appropriate when working on deck with gear over the side. Wear adequate foot protection on deck. The deck officer will point out any unsafe practices, but don't hesitate to act if you see an unsafe condition. Do not go out on deck at night alone, or in bad weather, without first notifying the bridge. Request permission from the bridge before turning on deck lights.
  3. The possession of drugs or alcohol is strictly forbidden by University regulations. 
  4. Conserve fresh water at all times; we do not have a limitless supply. Do a full load of laundry rather than a partial one. Take short showers.
  5. Meals are cafeteria style. Watch standers have priority in line. Bus your dishes and silverware to the scullery. Cups and glasses are numbered and correspond to your bunk number. There will usually be more than one sitting to feed all aboard; please vacate the mess hall once you have finished to make room for others. Meal times and other information are posted. Shirt and shoes are required at meals.
  6. Clean linen is issued once a week generally following the emergency drills.
  7. If you wish to visit the bridge or engine room, please request permission from the watch officer. These are busy places, so you may be asked to come back another time, depending on the current operation.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. We are here solely for the purpose of accomplishing the scientific mission. This requires the cooperation of all personnel aboard.

Thank you.

Captain, R/V Melville

History of R/V Melville

R/V Melville is one of the AGOR series, built in response to the Navy Tenoc (Ten year plan for oceanography) in the 1960's. After experience with use of the earlier ships in the series, a number of users proposed that there should be some major modifications of design. The greatest impetus for this came from three Scripps staff members: Fred Spiess, Dick Schwartzlose, and Max Silverman, who when out at sea together on a local cruise, sketched up a ship that would correct all of the observed deficiencies in R/VThomas Washington. As originally sketched, it was about 170 feet long, with a high bridge amidships for good visibility ahead and of the working decks astern, a wide beam, an open stern and side working area, and extremely good maneuverability using multiple thrusters. It grew, of course, during planning, and by the time the Navy's working drawings were done, it was much larger and had cycloidal propulsion instead of twin-screw and thrusters. Two ships of this design were built: Melville in 1969, and Knorr (for WHOI) in 1970, under the supervision of a Scripps yard team.

Melville carried out research programs well, except for recurring problems with the aft cycloid, which was an untested prototype model when installed, and acoustic problems caused by cavitation on the cycloid blades which make seismic work impossible and echosounding difficult. The last straw came when the manufacturer of the single large main propulsion engine stopped stocking spare parts, which meant a 6 month delay whenever an engine part was needed. The Navy therefore agreed to a mid-life refit, including re-engining and replacement of the cycloid system, plus extensive upgrading elsewhere. Replacement of the single large engine with multiple smaller engines required more engine room space, which resulted in a decision to cut and stretch the ships, which in turn gave opportunity to add a great deal of new laboratory and berthing space.

Melville and Knorr went through refit in Louisiana together, with both ships having the same problems. A refit that was expected to take 6 months lasted for 1.5 years, culminating in cost overruns, claims, and lawsuits only solved by a special act of Congress. The primary problems stemmed from asbestos, which was present in unexpected quantities in the original internal panelling, and in the complexity of the new "integrated electrical system." In the process of removing the asbestos-contaminated panels, subcontractors cut electric wiring throughout the ship, requiring almost complete replacement of the ship's electrical distribution system and causing additional delays.

Melville, as it finally came out of mid-life refit, is almost a new ship. The two cycloids were replaced by three Z-drives, giving nearly the same maneuverability although with slower response time. The single large slow-speed diesel main propulsion engine and auxiliaries were replaced by four higher-speed engines, which can provide power either for propulsion or for auxiliary uses. The berthing has been increased, lab size nearly doubled, and nearly all electronics and computers replaced with modern equipment. Finally, the acoustic noise problems being solved, the ship was outfitted with a SEA BEAM echosounding system which was the most advanced echosounder available.

--Written by George G. Shor Jr.


INTRODUCTION - The purpose of this handbook is to acquaint personnel with the characteristics and capabilities of R/V Melville. It provides a good review of what can and cannot be done on the ship, and lists sources of more detailed information. It directs your attention to a number of important safety matters. We hope that by reading it well in advance of your cruise you will spot problems in time to seek out satisfactory solutions, see how to prepare more smoothly and efficiently, and perhaps discover new or better ways to accomplish a certain task.

REVISIONS - The handbook is subject to ongoing revisions. We want it to represent the best information available from the experience of personnel at sea, and so we comments or corrections, suggestions for better arrangement of material, additions, etc. Please send any such input directly to the Ship Scheduling Office.

A CAUTIONARY NOTE ON ACCURACY - While reasonable efforts are made to update the handbook as needed and to issue new versions in the wake of significant changes on the ship, it is impossible to assure complete accuracy at all times. In all cases, make your particular research equipment needs known on the Ship Time Request Form and contact relevant technical support groups to ensure that critical gear is ready for your work.

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION - Scripps produces a Chief Scientist's Manual which summarizes the regulations, restrictions, customs, and traditions under which all research aboard Scripps vessels is carried out. It is available from the Ship Scheduling Office, the resident technicians, or the captain. It emphasizes rules and procedures, whereas this handbook treats ship features and capabilities. Available in all scientific state rooms is the UNOLS RVOC Safety Training Manual, Research Party Supplement. The RVOC Safety Manual is available aboard as well. In addition, A Manual for Seagoing Scientists describes life on a research ship, including social interactions, routine work, customs, and more on safety. There is overlap between the three, and chief scientists should read all of them.

Schedules, ship layouts and other ship related information are available on World Wide Web. This may be accessed via the SOMTS home page.

Most scientific cruises will wish to make use of the technical support, equipment, or advice of one or more of the technician groups at Scripps. In all cases a timely and clear explanation of your needs is to your advantage. The principal groups are listed on the next page. Most of these groups are recharge activities.