by Pedro Lebron, Engineer, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
July 24, 2017
Being a crewmember on America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, has its challenges. Not counting the obvious (missing family, friends, and all of the activities back home), living onboard a ship—and keeping it livable—takes a lot of effort, knowledge, and teamwork.
As one of the members of the Engineering Department, the ship depends on me and my team for a multitude of things that contribute to our ability to operate in distant parts of the world. These include the upkeep of electrical power and lights; potable water to drink, shower, and wash; a propulsion system to take us where we need to go; a hydraulic system that enables the team of engineers and scientists to explore the deep ocean (in some cases where no one has been before); comfortable air conditioning throughout; a sanitation system for (well you know...); and more.
We work together, learn from each other, and become better at what we do. There is never a dull moment!
We have many of the comforts of home on the ship. We get three great meals per day made by our Stewards Department. We have a small gym for those who want some additional exercise. And since we are often gone for long periods of time, we thankfully have laundry and showers on board (especially great for those who go to the gym).
Now, it’s not all work, work, work. There is some down time, too. We enjoy our Sundae Sundays (on...Sundays), Movies on the Fantail (nothing beats watching some of the newest DVD releases or old-time favorites under the stars), or even Pedro’s Pix (a movie during dinner every night while underway—usually selected by yours truly). Some of us enjoy playing video games—we have a pretty good selection. There are even a couple of people on the ship with guitars, in case we want to listen to live music.
But, for me, the best part of life on this ship is being a part of deep ocean exploration. We go to places where not many people have been—and probably never will go. We have visited places like Kwajalein Atoll, Saipan, American Samoa, etc. Even getting close to some other places, like being near an active volcano as we did when we went near Farallon de Pajaros, is incredible.
We’ve encountered many different things throughout our travels, especially here in the Pacific Ocean, from sunken ships and aircraft to marine life that hasn’t been found anywhere else in the world. Some things are in the sky, like the solar eclipse we were able to see in March 2016 (in my opinion, an eclipse is best seen through the tinted lens of a welding helmet).
So while being part of the crew of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer might be tasking and highly demanding at times, the rewards we reap, in memories and experiences we share with our crewmates, are priceless.