Usually most of the officers and crew work at least eight hours per day, unless we are conducting scientific operations. Then we work until the job is done. We also work on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when the ship is at sea. In fact, this year we will be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas at sea in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. When the ship is in foreign ports, our time off is very special to us, but when we get there we still have to load and unload gear and watch the ship. This means that we work probably half of the time while we are in port. Usually the ship goes out to sea for 30 days at a time. That means that we work 30 days without a day off. When we get into port we usually stay from 5 to 7 days. If we are lucky we get 3 days off every 5 weeks while we are out to sea. Most of the crew gets 30 or more days of leave each year, during which they can take a vacation. Most of the crew will get to fly back to the United States once (for about 30 days) during the ship's around the world cruise.
--From David Owen, Seaman Surveyor and Ensign Wetzler
47) Jennifer Quintiliani wonders, "How were you chosen to be on the MALCOLM BALDRIGE?"
There are many different answers to this question. David Owen, a Seaman Surveyor in the ship's crew writes: I saw an add in the paper advertising this job. I went in to the ship's port office and applied for the job. With my previous experience in the U.S. Navy and a seaman's card from the U.S. Coast Guard, I was hired that day. -- From David Owen
The ship's officers are selected a very different way. All of the officers on the ship belong to the NOAA Commissioned Corps. The NOAA Corps is one of the seven Uniformed Services in the United States. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Public Health Service are the other six Uniformed Services. The NOAA Corps is the smallest of the Services, with only about 400 officers total. Approximately 20% of the officers are women. In fact, NOAA was one of the first of the Uniformed Services to allow women to go to sea on ships and to become Commanding Officer of one of the NOAA ships.
Each of the officers has a least a Bachelor's Degree, having completed four years of college before being commissioned. Actually over half of the officers in the NOAA Corps have Master's Degrees. Once we have entered the NOAA Corps, we usually get assigned to ships depending upon our scientific and technical backgrounds, but more often than not, officers are assigned to those ships where they are needed. Sometimes the assignment process allows an officer to go to a particular ship of his or her choice, or to a particular home port on the east or west coast. We try to accommodate the desires of each officer, but somtimes that's not always possible. -- From Captain Nelson
48) Kasey Barger asks, "Would you ever want to be a marine biologist?"
I had never thought about it until I got this job. Watching the scientists work on their projects is very interesting. I'm learning a lot, but a career in marine biology should be pursued after high school. I made different choices when I was in high school, so now it would be difficult to change careers. -- From David Owen, Seaman Surveyor As a kid I always enjoyed going to the coast. I would spend hours hopping from rock to rock looking into the tidal pools. What would I find? Perhaps a small fish trapped as the tide ebbed away, crabs, or maybe small shrimp-like creatures. Playing with these creatures and examining them sparked my curiosity. I wanted to be a biologist. As I grew older, I realized that there were a lot of people who felt the same way. There were a lot of biologists. This would make it difficult to get a job as a biologist. So I decided on a different career. I went to college and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics. I may not be a biologist, but now I can still watch the biologists work and help them find new and better ways to work. -- From Ensign Mark Wetzler
49) Jessica Wunder asks, "Have any of you been bitten or stung by sea creatures?"
Yes, we have scuba divers who sometimes collect sea creatures and they have been stung mildly, but never bitten. The divers are extremely careful when they are in the water, especially if there are any signs of sharks or other dangerous animals around. If they do see aggressive and dangerous fish (sharks, barracuda, etc) the divers get out of the water immediately. -- From David Owen, Seaman Surveyor
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