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You are here: /main/research expeditions/ 2005 RAMP/10/1-2/05 HI'IALAKAI

10/1-2/05 - NOAA Ship HI'IALAKAI
by David Nichols, State of Hawaii, DLNR, HIHWNMS

Ship Doc

NOAA Ship HI'IALAKAI Medical Officer, LT(JG) Michael Futch

The crew of the NOAA Ship Hi`ialakai take safety very seriously. “Safety First” is actually written in large letters on the two exhaust stacks rising above the ship. For the ships crew, safety actually does come first with much of their focus on recognizing potential safety hazards and minimizing accidents. For the science team a safety meeting occurs each morning (right after breakfast) when chamber operator/divemaster, Jim Bostick reviews the “Plan of the Day” (POD) and reiterates potential safety concerns. The ship also conducts periodic drills (abandon ship, fire/collision, man overboard) throughout the cruise. Everyone has his or her own life jacket and immersion suit while on board. There are several life rafts capable of holding all personnel (and more) in the unlikely event it is necessary to abandon ship.

The ship even has an onboard hospital that is equipped to handle most emergencies. LT(JG) Michael Futch is the Medical Officer assigned to the ship. LT(JG) Futch is prepared to respond to a wide range of emergencies from heart attacks to lacerations. He can even perform an amputation if absolutely necessary – he would just need to borrow a hacksaw from the engineering department. One of the more common conditions LT(JG) Futch treats is seasickness that can be serious if it persists longer than a few days. LT(JG) Futch is also the onboard Diving Medical Officer which is an additional level of training that allows him to respond appropriately to most diving related injuries. So far, this has been an uneventful cruise for LT(JG) Futch.

There are the obvious systems onboard (i.e. propulsion, navigation, communication) that enable the ship to fulfill its mission. However, the greatest asset contributing to the success of the ship is its hard-working, skilled and dedicated crew. There is a noticeable positive attitude from all crewmembers and a strong willingness to help the science teams complete their mission. A portion of this good nature can probably be attributed to Chief Steward, Allen Gary and Second Cook, Susan Parker and the excellent food the y prepare daily. There are also a few other amenities that may help prevent the onset of cabin fever and improve the likelihood that all on board can get along. For example, there is a ship store stocked with everything from candy to shampoo to movie rentals and there is a workout room equipped with stationary bike, rowing machine, stair-stepper and assorted free weights. Juice, coffee and ice cream are readily available at all times. For many of the crew the ship is their home whether at sea or in port. With the restaurant, convenience store, health club, juice bar, coffee shop and ice cream I can understand why.

ENS Jones

ENS Sarah Jones, Navigation Officer, and fish biologist Matthew Craig don immersion suits during an abandon ship drill. Photo by Holly Bolick.

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