Brian Kennedy: Introduction
My name is Ensign Brian Kennedy. I work on board the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America's ship for ocean exploration. She's a 224 foot, T-AGOS class vessel that specializes in exploring the deep reaches of the ocean that have never been seen before by mankind using high-precision mapping and ROV operations.
I am a NOAA Corps officer. NOAA Corps is the seventh and smallest uniformed service of the United States of America. In NOAA Corps you start off as an ensign with a base salary of about $30-35,000 per year which includes housing. The pay scale quickly increases as you go through the ranks. I've already been selected for promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade and I am just waiting for that to come down. That continues with the same rank system as the Navy.
The research this ship is primarily involved with is more exploration. We go places where there is little or no data and basically see what's there. Once we see points of interest, we come back later with our remotely operated vehicle, which is a small submersible that we can go down to almost 4,000 meters. We can investigate the area with high-definition video and some chemical sensors, anything that the multibeam mapping shows might be of interest.
My job requires a lot of travel. I am stationed on the ship, so wherever the ship goes is my home for right now. The numbers of hours I work during the week varies with what the ship is doing. Forty hours is considered a base week, but there are some weeks I work a little bit less and some weeks I work a lot more. Underway, we work seven days a week, very often 10-11 hours a day, so you can really rack up the hours.