Thursday, March 06, 2008

R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer

R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer at the Ice Pier at McMurdo Base.

At the end of the January, the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer came to port. It is one of the two main vessels the NSF uses to conduct Antarctic research. It came back to port two days for a crewman to get his crushed finger looked at. I thought it would be a good time to post some pictures of the vessel. Unfortunately, as I'm looking through my photos I'm realizing that I don't really have any. I must have been distracted on our tour.

The engine room.

The Palmer was built in 1992. It has icebreaking capability and is 94 meters long. It was designed as a research vessel that can hold 37 scientists in addition to its 22 crewman. It can be at sea for 75-day missions. It was named after the American who first sighted Antarctica as a 21 year old commanding the Hero in 1820.

A wing of the bridge.

I managed to get on the Palmer twice. The first time, I thought I had a private tour lined up for Annie and me, but it fell through so we just guided ourselves on to the ship. If you look like you belong, you do. We didn't know where we were going, but it was fun to scatter around and explore. Later, I was given an actual tour by Lora. Fabulous lady, great tour guide, and hopefully boss one day. They had a lounge on the ship, library, galley, bridge, research labs, laundry, computer banks, etc. Pretty much anything you'd expect to be on a research vessel. The rooms were really small and usually two per room. That works well if your roommate is on the opposite 12 hour shift, but could be hard if you both had to be in there.

View out of the front bridge window.

The most impressive part of the ship was the gym, sauna, bridge, or crow's nest. It is a toss up. I just never thought such a well stocked gym would be on a research vessel or even the presence of a sauna. The bridge and crow's nests just offered spectacular views of the area.

The view from the crow's nest. Look how small that flag looks now.

The minimum contract you can do on the Palmer is three weeks, but I think some extend as long as fifteen. 12 hours a day and 7 days a week. You get worked to the bone and probably cold to bone too, but you also get a rare chance to see a lot more of the continent that if you are just stationed at McMurdo. The vessels also spend most of their time near the peninsula that is near Chile so I'd get to see an entirely different part of the continent. I'm hoping to snag one of these at some point, but I need to learn some more Linux server stuff first. That is one of my winter goals. However, since winter doesn't seem to be settling I'm not sure when I'll get to it.

I'm off to skate ski now. Have a great day wherever you are.


  1. Were you hopefully looking at your next possible job?

  2. It probably won't be my next job, but I'd definitely be interested in working on the ship. If I was on it, I wouldn't be working for Lora. She hires for the Palmer research station on the Peninsula near Chile where I'd also like to work one day.

  3. i vote for you working on the ship vs. the research station...just for the chance to see more of the continent. :-)