A man is being hoisted high above the JOIDES Resolution' deck.

The Sweat Behind the Science

Scientists are not the only ones who work hard on the JOIDES Resolution, the Entier Crew in addition to the Siem Crew all have demanding roles to fill. The roughnecks though, really do the

A group of four men are standing the one on the left has yellow coveralls and the rest have red coveralls. They are all wearing white helmets.
The drill floor crew. From left: Lito, Edmar, Boni, and Paul.

sweat work that brings the cores to the surface. I can see the drill pipe and some of the drill floor from my office window and I have been really curious about a process that brings tubes of sediment up from below the seafloor ten meters at a time. At our current drill site, the seafloor is almost 2 km down and that is only their starting point. I recently watched a team for a few hours while they did their heavy and sometimes dangerous work so that I could finally understand the process behind the cores. With a little help, I made an explanatory video that walks through the process of XCB coring on the JR. The Roughnecks work in similar shifts as the scientists, 12 hours per day every day for 8 weeks then they get 8 weeks off. I was curious about the crew of men whom I filmed and so went to find out more about them.

A man in red coveralls and a white helmet stands inferno of large machinery and next to a core barrel
Boni stands on the drill floor next to a core barrel.

The whole crew is from the Philippines; they represent three regions of that country. Derrickman Lito has been working on the JR for 24 years, that is more than half of her time in service! His and Bonifacio’s (Boni) favorite part of the job is the travel. They have been to amazing places like Cape Town, South Africa, New Zealand, and most recently Greece and Spain. The two younger members of the group, Edmar (two years on the JR) and Paul, who is on only his second expedition, like the travel as well. Paul has only recently seen this type of core on the JR and really likes to see it come up. All of these men got their start in oil and gas drilling. Boni, who has been with the JR for 12 years, worked in oil and gas for 37 years before joining this crew. To a man, they miss their families when they are gone, but are happy that they can provide for them. When they are off, they spend their 8 weeks at home with their families doing things for them like building houses or planning for their retirement.

A man is being hoisted high above the JOIDES Resolution' deck.
Edmar goes up to the top of the derrick

The JOIDES Resolution was originally built as an oil exploration ship in the late 1970’s and was converted to a scientific drilling ship in 1984. Because of her age, all of her drilling components are analog or manual. Gears and wires work with dials and knobs to get the job done. Unlike newer automated drill ships, the drillers and roughnecks need to work hard and skillfully to assemble and disassemble the drill pipe segments and core barrels. The men who operate the drill and work the drill floor make magic happen when they bring up each core from the depths. To see the work that they do spend five minutes with my YouTube video:https://youtu.be/hP4RBqhi7T0

Jennifer Field
I have been a teacher of science for over 30 years and am passionate about engaging people of all ages with science. I currently work at Nipmuc Regional High School in Massachusetts.
More articles by: Jennifer Field

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JOIDES Resolution