The RV Gould is a relatively new NSF ship, some 220 feet in length with a hull strengthened for frequent encounters with sea ice. Our research team was met aboard ship by the ship cience leader, Randy Sliester. Randy gave us a briefing on when the ship will leave port, collected our passports, and informed us that we would need to muster before we depart for a meeting to discuss safety issues.
Oh, and by the way, "remember to bring our cold water survival suit and life preserver to the meeting," he said.
Our accommodations aboard ship are basic but quite adequate, with bunk beds and a small desk to work upon. We are all busy with final details, checking supply lists and reviewing our game plan for the first few days of research activities once we arrive in Antarctica at Palmer Station. Our project leaders, Bill, Chuck and I, are taking full advantage of being together to work collaboratively on various journal publications and book chapters reporting past Antarctic research activities.
We are the only science group being transported to Palmer Station on this particular cruise. But there are other scientists and technicians on board that will be conducting oceanographic studies in the cold Antarctic waters off the Peninsula.
One of the real thrills of this line of work is getting to meet and interact with other science groups who are involved in a myriad of different interdisciplinary projects. In the past I have even developed professional collaborations with individuals met while working "on the ice" (Antarctic scientists refer to Antarctica as "the ice"). Judging from the large sampling apparatus stowed on the back deck of the ship, some of these oceanographers will be collecting sea water samples from different depths in order to examine aspects of nutrient dynamics and microscopic life in the waters surrounding the Antarctic continent.
Time soon to muster for our briefing by Randy on survival at sea should the ship go down. Let's hope the notorious Drake Passage does not offer up this experience!