NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gets Some TLC

July 31, 2014

Life at sea is hard – not just on people, but also on equipment and vessels. After completing her work in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer pulled into port in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, at the end of May for some much-deserved TLC.

Despite not being actively out to sea, this has not been a period of “rest” for the Okeanos crew – they’ve been busy working to get the ship ready for more exciting exploration, science, and discovery. Several crew members have also attended training, spent time helping out on other NOAA vessels, and (finally!) taken some time off.


Shore-side Repairs

Shore-side repairs being completed over the summer include:

  • Painting of the ship’s freeboard (the part of the ship that is above water)
  • Reconditioning of the mission and bridge decks
  • Calibration of ship instrumentation
  • Repairs to the ship’s VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), a small Earth-based satellite dish that allows the real-time sharing of exploration data and looks like a giant globe on top of the ship
  • Engine overhauls for two of the Ship Service Diesel Generators (SSDGs) and cleaning of all SSDGs
  • Technical upgrades of the ship’s file servers
  • Installation of a new floor in the laundry room, a new exterior door for the remotely operated vehicle control room, and new vent covers
  • Renewal of the soft patch (the hatch granting access to the engine room from the weather deck)
  • Overhaul of the starboard crane winch
  • Expansion of the fire panel
  • Preservation of the bilges in the engine room, bridge equipment antenna attachments, and the ship’s tanks (including ballast, freshwater, etc.)
  • Inspection of the propulsion motor
  • American Bureau of Shipping inspection and classification
  • Installation of new Oily Water Separator and Fuel Oil Purifier
  • Refurbishment of the magnetic compass including a new kick pipe

Repairs should be finished by the end of July and will be followed by an inspection period and testing of the VSAT and Dynamic Positioning on the ship.

These repairs are important to the functioning of the ship and to maintaining the cutting-edge technology that allows the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research to provide scientists and resource managers with access to otherwise inaccessible areas of the ocean.

Work conducted on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer leads to baseline observations of the deep ocean and allows us to deliver environmental intelligence needed to better understand deep-water areas and more effectively target future research efforts.


Looking Ahead

Come August 9, Okeanos Explorer will head back out to sea. The first several days of our August cruise will involve the “shakedown” (testing) of items that were repaired, replaced, or idle over the summer. Then, we’ll be mapping previously unmapped seamounts in the New England Seamount chain through the end of August.

Live exploration video of underwater canyons and seamounts in the Atlantic will be on the docket in September, so stay tuned and get ready to discover and explore!