The ship by the dock

All Onboard for Iceberg Alley

29 scientists, 2 Education & Outreach Officers, various technicians, crew, and a dedicated ice observer are all onboard the JOIDES Resolution. The lights of Punta Arenas, Chile, twinkle less than a mile away as we wait at anchor, preparing for our voyage into Antarctic seas.

It may seem dull, sitting on a ship going nowhere, but our days have been full and anything but boring.

Three ships at anchor with the Punta Arenas sign in the foreground
Three research vessels in Punta Arenas at once: the JOIDES Resolution, the RV Nathaniel B. Palmer, and the RV Laurence M. Gould                       [Credit: Gary Acton]
Safety First (You shall not pass!)

Some parts of the ship are simply off-limits to the science team. We’re on a complex drilling ship with cranes, cables under high tension, dangerous mechanics, and a drilling floor with many moving, swinging parts.

Walkway on deck showing the yellow and black hazard line
No crossing without your safety gear! [Credit: Marlo Garnsworthy]
We’ve learned not to cross the black and yellow hazard line without our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): hardhats, safety glasses, and sturdy, close-toed boots. We’re confined to the forward section of the ship (everything in front of the derrick and rig floor), and the helideck (where people like to walk or run), which we can access via a catwalk along the starboard side—provided we’re wearing appropriate safety clothing and the sea state is not too heavy, of course!

People wearing lifejackets, hardhats, and safety glasses. The derrick in the background.
Emergency drill: hardhats, safety glasses, and life vests on, immersion suits at the ready [Credit: Thomas Ronge]
We’ve learned how to put on our lifejacket and immersion suit (designed to keep us alive if we find ourselves in frigid water), had our first weekly emergency drill, and explored other safety protocols, including extreme cold training. An emergency is unlikely, yet we’re heading into a very remote area and some of the planet’s stormiest seas—strewn with icebergs—so safety is uppermost in everyone’s mind.

Places to see, people to meet!
A labeled diagram showing parts of the ship, including the bow, derrick, and bridge
Layout of the JOIDES Resolution

We’ve met the captain and officers, the technicians, the ship’s doctor, and other crew, and the science team is getting to know each other better. We’ve discussed our science objectives (which I’ll talk about in a later post) and had general orientations regarding living safely, happily, and harmoniously aboard. For the next 8 weeks, all 121 of us will be a small, confined floating village, far from civilization, so living together well is imperative.

Since we work in 12-hour shifts—either “Sunrise” (midnight-to-noon) or “Sunset” (noon-to-midnight)—someone is always sleeping. That means always being quiet in the accommodations stack. “Awareness” and “respect” are the key words onboard in all areas of shipboard life.

Two men in hardhats look at the instruments on the ship's bridge
A visit to the bridge [Credit Marlo Garnsworthy]
We’ve toured the bridge and labs and now understand what happens to the sediment cores after they come on deck. We’ve even seen the fascinating places we’re not allowed to go to (unescorted): the drill floor and engine room.

A stuffed albatross toy in a corridor with benches designed for holding the cores
Our albatross mascot explores the catwalk, where the sediment cores are first received [Credit: Marlo Garnsworthy]
You can tour the ship, too.

View from the ship's aft showing the towering derrick and cranes
The derrick and cranes from the helideck [Credit: Marlo Garnsworthy]
View of the drill floor with lots of machinery
The drill floor [Credit: Marlo Garnsworthy]
Now, we’re excited to sail and just waiting for refueling before heading out to Iceberg Alley!

The JOIDES Resolution on the water, distant hills and fluffy clouds
The JOIDES Resolution as seen from the RV N.B.Palmer [Credit: Rober Larter]
Education & Outreach Officer for Exp. #382 I am a children's book author, an illustrator, and an editor, writing teacher, and science communicator. Outreach Officer for Antarctic research cruise NBP17-02.
More articles by: MGarnsworthy

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