When the Clock Strikes Twelve!

When the hand reaches 12 noon it is time for the ‘day shift’ scientists to start work. Of course, by then many of the technical staff and half the drilling and ship’s crew have already done 6 six hours with another six to go, and the science ‘night shift’ drag themselves wearily to the mess to have some hard-earned nourishment after twelve hours of describing, testing, recording and otherwise investigating the precious cores from beneath the ocean floor. (At this point I could really wax lyrical about the food available in the mess hall and the people who work there but that is another blog entirely that I will keep for another day.)

The day shift then takes over the helm to keep the conveyor belt of samples rolling through. As long as cores keep coming up through the drill pipe they have to be processed! Then at midnight the teams are ready to swap over again – but the day shift have to hang on for another half-an-hour for the daily cross-over meeting where everyone gets together in the conference room – just to make sure that everyone knows what everyone else is doing.

Running a research ship like the JOIDES Resolution is a very costly business! Years in the planning, and funded by IODP along with a consortium of countries across the world, every minute at sea counts! The ship works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Gone are the Sunday morning lie-ins and the long, preceding, lazy Saturday evenings! Everyone on the ship works twelve hours on and twelve hours off, every day. And in case you forget – there are very large clocks in every room!

The cabins are mostly 2 man and when you are off shift you can have the cabin to yourself – your room mate has to leave at the beginning of their shift with everything that they need for the day. Woe betide you if you leave your precious day’s chocolate fix in your locker – even that is no excuse to go back and wake someone up!

But the ship doesn’t just house scientists. It also needs a crew of engineers, technicians, drillers and mariners who work regular expeditions, as do the technical staff who know the instrumentation and systems inside out. These people include a publications specialist who pulls all the data together in a publishable format, an imaging specialist responsible for taking detailed images of every core and samples as well as mug-shots of the crews! There are IT experts and software developers ready to support the scientists’ requests and queries. We also have a physician on board who has to deal with everything from sea-sickness to broken bones and sometimes even worse! The pictures of many of these people can be found on the JOIDES Resolution website – although some people are too shy to have their profiles up there!

There is a lounge area and a movie room that we can use after our shifts, but many people plan to go to the gym to wind down before bed. From my own personal observations I don’t think it as well used as these intentions would suggest! There are some people on board who have been looking for the gym for the last 3 weeks and still haven’t found it! Perhaps I should offer to show them the way, but then I don’t get there that often either!