Research Vessel Support Staff
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Antarctic Support Contract (ASC) provides up to ten support personnel from the departments shown below.  These may vary depending on the type of science and/or the importance of services provided by a particular department.  Questions regarding staffing should be directed to the cruise point of contact and/or department supervisor. Every cruise sails with the following minimum list of support personnel:

One of the above positions will also double as an Emergency Medical Technician.  Both ASC and ECO have access to the Medical Advisory System (MAS) to assist with any medical needs via telephone.

In addition, the following positions may be filled as needed:

  • One Marine Science Technician
  • One additional Electronics Technician or Computer Technician
  • Additional Marine Technicians as needed and as berthing space permits

NOTE: Keep in mind that additional ASC support reduces the number of grantees able to sail.  Along with the ASC point of contact for the cruise, the Chief Scientist and/or Principal Investigator must decide which positions are the most critical to the success of the cruise.

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Position Descriptions

Marine Projects Coordinator (MPC)

The MPC is in charge of all the ASC personnel on board.  All staffing and tasking concerns should be directed to the MPC.  This includes shift assignments and tasking of ASC support personnel by the chief scientist/grantees.  As the primary ASC representative onboard, all services provided by ECO must be coordinated with the knowledge and consent of the MPC.

The MPC is also responsible for the proper labelling, offloading and shipping of all grantee and ASC cargo, including both equipment and samples.

In short, the MPC serves as ASC supervisor, both ASC staff and grantee travel agent, and logistics representative, in addition to a myriad of other needs sure to manifest themselves during the course of a cruise.

If you are unsure about something, or how to do something, the MPC is the individual to ask.  He or she tells you what needs to be done, gets the answer for you, or points you to the person who can help.  The MPC also has the final word regarding the end of science date and time. The Captain and the chief scientist are consulted, but it is the responsibility of the MPC to make sure that the ship returns to port on time to prepare for the next cruise.

Finally, the MPC, along with the Captain, decides if sea state, ice conditions or other safety-related factors warrant shutting down operations until the condition subsides.  If either the Captain or the MPC thinks the conditions are too bad for continuing work, operations cease until they both concur that it is safe to work.

Marine Technician (MT)

The MT's are responsible for the handling of all cargo, deploying all science gear (under the direction of the MPC, chief scientist and Captain), Zodiac operations, maintenance and repair of NSF-owned mechanical science equipment such as dredges, cores, nets, etc., (the two exceptions to that are the Markey oceanographic winches and LMF compressors, which are maintained and operated by Edison Chouest Offshore).

Electronics Technician (ET)

The ET is responsible for the complete range of NSF-owned electronics equipment on the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer and ARSV Laurence M. Gould.  This includes all oceanographic sensors, the atmospheric sensors, VHF radios, closed-circuit TV system and the Iridium and Nera-B Inmarsat satellite telephone.  The ET also repairs grantee science equipment as needed, and if possible, based on the condition of the equipment and the documentation (i.e., technical manuals and schematics) provided by the grantee.

Network Administrator

The Network Administrator's primary responsibility onboard is the centralized data acquisition system, the maintenance and repair of the vessel networks and running the twice-daily email sessions.  The Network Admin also assists with the configuration, operation and repair of other shipboard systems, for example the satellite phones (Inmarsat and Iridium), underway fluorometer or the XBT (eXpendable BathyThermograph) systems.

At the end of a cruise, the Network Admin compiles all data from the various ship's systems, for example, all cruise CTD, XBT, TSG and sonar data.  These data are then archived and burned onto a CD-ROM for distribution to the Chief Scientist, et al.

Marine Science Technician (MST)

The MST assists grantees and ASC personnel with the operation of all lab equipment, i.e., microscopes, incubators, fluorometers, liquid scintillation counters and autosalinometers.  The MST, with the assistance of the ET, provides troubleshooting and repair support as well.

A large portion of the MST's responsibilties center around the proper disposal of lab waste; monitoring of lab safety equipment such as eye-wash stations to make sure they are working and up to date; and ensuring the grantees use the proper procedures and safety precautions when handling dangerous chemicals or radioactive materials.  The MST is in charge of all lab equipment, practices and safety procedures and has the final word on these matters.

In addition, the MST assists grantees with completing the necessary paperwork for all equipment, samples, and leftover radioactive isotopes they are returning to their home institutions and any other lab-related shipping issues.

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Tim McGovern/Alexandra Isern, Division of Polar Programs