Day 13 From the bridge: Chantelle Cook
The tours (and learning) continues! Today, I will share with you our tour of the bridge, by one of the ship’s deck officers and first mate, Brendan.
On the bridge, Brendan shares his story of how he came to be working on Investigator. From his training as a cadet, where he spent a couple of years at sea, to training at world-renowned Australian Maritime College and completing his master’s degree, to becoming a captain. He then worked on various ships around Australia carrying bauxite, coal, lead, sulphuric acid and fuel, before coming to work on Investigator for ASP Ship Management Group.
He describes his job as challenging but rewarding, managing rotating shifts with two other ship mates; juggling extra duties, in addition to steering the vessel; and trying not to miss sleep cycles. He discusses how life on the bridge of Investigator is exciting and diverse—working with scientists is a far cry from a fuel tanker. This job gives him opportunity to access state-of the-art-equipment, collaborate with some of the world’s best scientists and technicians, and push navigational boundaries, while getting to see marine life along the way!
Brendan then highlights some of the very unique and specific equipment, which is not found on most ships worldwide. A continuing theme is the use of high tech sonar, including an omni-directional sonar system for detecting fish and two navigational sonar maps. Brendan recalls how, when he first began work here, he felt like he was on the movie set of The Hunt for Red October—the only sonar he had seen on other ships used a single echo sound. The two navigational sonar maps are particularly important, as the mates rely on these to see other vessels approaching.
We continue to see how the operations run on the bridge. All navigation is done though GPS, there are no paper maps and there are five navigation stations, all run off their own computer system. In the event of major catastrophe, the stations run on back up batteries.
We are shown the station where they plan navigation routes, accounting for weather systems. Brendan explains the and ins and outs of how they calculate ship weights, fuel and water prior to each voyage. He then goes on to show us the ship controls, including the dynamic positioning systems and the manual driving levers. Chris even got to try the simulator for the ship’s auto pilot system!