Survival at sea as part of ORCHESTRA: Part 3...by Chris Kendrick
Chris, Mel and Carol undertaking survival at sea training in
readiness for their ORCHESTRA cruises next year
The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a major partner in a scientific programme called ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and carbon Sequestration and Transport) which has been running for over a year. The project aims to improve our ability to understand and predict the role of the Southern Ocean currents to modulate global climate. The BGS’s contribution to this research is to analyse the oxygen and carbon isotope composition of waters from the World’s oceans over a 5 year period. The carbon data will be used to investigate where carbon is ether absorbed by the ocean or expelled into the atmosphere. This is particularly important as the oceans regulate atmospheric CO2. The oxygen will help us to track currents and understand where freshwater enters the oceans.
Next year three of the BGS staff (myself, Carol Arrowsmith, and Melanie Leng) will be going to sea to collect samples across 3 transects of the World’s oceans: I will sail along the 24°S parallel between Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, Carol the Falklands and Cape Town via the Weddell Sea, and Melanie across the Drake Passage.
As part of the preparation for going to sea, we had to undertake personal survival (at sea) training, in case we have to abandon ship! We did this training at the Humberside Offshore Training Association (HOTA) facility in Hull. We spent a day learning about the ship on-board safety equipment (survival suits, life rafts, location devices), as well as how to abandon ship safely (jumping into a very cold pool from a few metres high), how to board and right a life raft etc. Overall we learnt that the key to survival is team work and will power. (Incidentally, and according to a quick search on the web, only two dozen or so large ships sink at sea each year from a cohort of 50,000 large ships, that’s 0.05%).