Personal Narrative: Empire Island

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wave then settled back down. A few minutes later, the Captain came back, took his seat, and resumed eating, again without saying anything. We later learned that we had missed colliding with a merchant vessel by a matter of feet. After calmly leaving the lunch table, Captain Siegrist had climbed the stairs to the bridge, assessed the situation quickly, and issued the exact and correct orders for course and speed necessary to avoid the collision. And then he returned to his lunch as though it was just another day at the office. That was seamanship. Even though my job on the Stoddert really had nothing to do with meteorology, Captain Siegrist often made it clear he liked having “a weather guesser” in his wardroom. During any appearance of heavy …show more content…

Before leaving port, we were visited by an officer from the Enterprise, and I was summoned to the meeting. Arriving in the wardroom, I found the Captain, the XO, and the Meteorological Officer from the aircraft carrier, Lieutenant Commander Dick Stender. He said he’d heard that Stoddert had a meteorologist on board and so he had a special request for me. He hoped I would be willing to take personal oversight of the careful logging of all of Stoddert’s weather and seawater temperature observations – a responsibility normally borne by the ship’s navigator and antisubmarine warfare officer – and also carefully record my own personal observations and that of the crew of any additional atmospheric or oceanographic phenomenon that might be observed while we were in the Indian Ocean. He explained something I already knew: that there was a severe dearth of observational data about that ocean and that it was likely that American military operations would become more frequent in that theater. Every piece of information about the environment would help fill in the blanks. In enthusiastically agreeing to do all of this, I explained to him the circumstances of my master’s thesis on Indian Ocean weather, and he was delighted to have the right guy for the job. And he said I was …show more content…

Secchi Disks are oceanographic measurement tools that are painted white and always the same in diameter of thirty centimeters or twelve inches. The disk is weighted and lowered into the water by a rope attached to its center until it just barely becomes un-seeable, and then pulled up until the observer can just barely see it. That “optical depth” is determined by measuring the rope’s length from the disk to the waterline. Even though there’s an element of subjectivity because of different observers’ visual acuity and varying degrees of cloud cover, this process still yields a primitive but reasonably accurate measurement of the ocean’s clarity, or more precisely its converse, the turbidity. Commander Stender’s request meant my Bos’n Mates would need to paint the disk and rig it with weights and a measuring line (with knots at one foot intervals) and then the ship would have to stop dead in the water once a day at local apparent noon (the moment of maximum overhead sun angle, as measured by the navigator using a sextant), so that I could make my observations. Of course, Captain Siegrist and I happily agreed we would do our

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