Onboard the vessel
The bridge is the nerve centre of the ship, with communication links
to the outside world, to the operations room, to crew deploying instruments
on the aft deck, and to the engine room to maintain the precise positioning
required for ocean sampling.
From the operations room, scientists and technicians work with information
gathered by the many instruments deployed from the ship. They keep an
eye on the positioning and performance of the ocean sampling and monitoring
instruments, all of which are tracked using electronic sensors.
Water samples brought aboard by the ocean sampler are analysed in
the chemistry lab by members of the CSIRO Marine Research Hydrochemistry
Each chemist may spend up to 85 days a year on research vessels, overseeing
sampling procedures and operating instruments in environments ranging
from the huge seas of the Southern Ocean to the 'mill pond' conditions
of the Bismarck Sea off New Guinea.
The chemistry of sea water–such as dissolved nutrients, salinity
and oxygen–reveals much about the character of the ocean, and
is the foundation of studies into climate change, ocean circulation,
ocean productivity and ecosystems.
When the Southern Surveyor is engaged in biological sampling,
the 'fish lab' sees plenty of action.
The catch, collected by a net, sled, dredge or grabber, is dropped
from a hopper into the sorting tray. The fish are sorted by species
into boxes and weighed, and the unwanted samples are discarded down
the trash chute. The boxes are loaded on the rollers and sent to the
other tables for biological processing. It's often a 12-hour shift and
can be cold, hard, work.
Samples of particular interest are measured, weighed and dissected,
or preserved by freezing or in alcohol or formalin for later processing
or identification, or to be kept as specimens in museums or in the CSIRO
National Fish Collection. Many specimens, particularly new discoveries,
are photographed in the room to the back of the sorting area.
This area is also used for other activities such as processing cores
and rock samples collected by geologists.
Scientists and technicians sleep in twin cabins with shared toilet
and shower facilities. They work alternating 12-hour shifts, normally
changing at midnight and midday, or 2 am and 2 pm (sunset and sunrise
shifts). It takes the scientific staff several days to get fully used
to the routine, and the motion of the ship.
The ship's crew, who live aboard the vessel for much longer periods
of time, have single cabins. There are two laundries and the scientists
do their own washing and cabin cleaning.
The chief scientist, or voyage leader, has his or her own cabin upstairs,
one floor below the bridge, as does the ship's master, the 1st and 2nd
mate and the chief and 2nd engineer.
There are commonly 12 scientific and technical staff, and 15 crew
members. There is the master, 1st mate and 2nd mates, three engineers
including the chief engineer, two cooks (chief cook and second cook),
a chief steward, a bosun and about eight able seamen.
The scientific crew consists of the chief scientist and 11 other researchers,
including technicians to take care of electronics, the data centre and
Galley, mess and lounge
The mess and lounge provide a friendly place to eat, read, watch videos
and DVDs, play games, or chat. The ship is crewed 24 hours a day, so
the galley never sleeps. The food is 'ship' baked and plentiful. No
alcohol is consumed on board.
The aft deck can be a very busy area with the lifting, deployment,
and retrieval of gear physical sampling equipment. This includes biological
sampling nets, geological corers, sediment grabbers, sleds, dredges,
acoustic devices, oceanographic moorings and the underwater camera system.
Deploying a buoy from the back deck using the A-frame
The yellow A-frame is part of the system that deploys the ocean sampler
and other sampling gear such as mud grabs. Winches provide the wire
to deploy these gears to ocean depths (sometimes thousands of metres).
The two grey boxes house the winch controllers. They are in communication
with the operations room and the bridge. The nets, which can stretch
for up to 60 metres, are deployed through the stern ramp.
The big yellow knucklebone crane enables gear such as winches,
sampling gear and container-based laboratories to be lifted on
and off the ship, and moved about the deck. It also enables the
ship to load and offload gear at small ports, such as at islands
in the Pacific where heavy lifting equipment may not be readily
information contact Don MacKenzie.