A lot can change quickly when one is at sea! After an initial threat from the remnants of Tropical Depression Beryl, the Henry Bigelow worked its way south by surveying inshore stations along the coast of Long Island, then moved offshore as the weather and sea conditions improved.
The efficiency of operations improved as the cruise progressed, with everyone settling into their routines for getting the sampling done. Combined with improving weather, and a transit speed of around thirteen knots or better between stations, our coverage of the survey area was so rapid that we were at the southernmost stations off of North Carolina by Sunday.
That was when the engineers reported that bearings on the ship’s propeller shaft were overheating. Subsequent tests showed that there was indeed a problem, and a recommendation was made for the ship to head for Norfolk for repairs. As we continued working the remaining stations that would bring us to Norfolk, the engineers continued to monitor the situation. When we traveled at a speed of speed of ten knots or less, the condition remained stable and did not appear to worsen. Based on this information, commanding officer Kurt Zegowitz made the decision for us to continue working our way northward at this reduced speed until we can return to our home port in Newport Rhode Island. This will allow us to complete our coverage of the southern half of the survey area, and minimize the loss of data to the time series of samples. It will provide NOAA’s Marine Operations Center time to get a specialist to Rhode Island to examine the situation and determine a course of action. Finally, it will permit the scientists a chance to return home and return to work while the ship is being evaluated and repaired.
At this time we don’t know whether the ship will be able to return to sea soon enough to complete any or all of the Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine survey areas of this cruise, but we are thankful to still be working and getting the data and samples that we can.
HB 12-02 Ecosystem Monitoring Survey
Note: You can follow the ship’s course on the NOAA Ship Tracker (just pick the ship HB)