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> Which way do I go?, Port, Starboard, Bow, Forward, Aft, Back, Stern, and The Plank
post Jun 14 2006, 09:37 PM
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There were new things to learn about no matter which way I turned on the ship – literally. Besides learning about what the scientists are studying and how they collect their data, I also had to learn a new way of life on the ship.

When Patty and I first boarded the Healy, we walked up the brow on the portside of the ship. The brow is the gangplank, or ladder, that bridges the ship to the dock. Portside refers to the left side of the ship if you were facing the front of the ship, while starboard refers to the right.

Healy at Dock - You can see the brow being lowered to the dock. It is the horizontal, long grey thing against the red part of the hull of the ship and is being lowered by the big yellow crane at the top of the ship. The crew will eventually unfold the rails so that it is safe for passengers to climb up and down it. The steps are surprisingly shallow and the length of the brow creates a very gentle slope.
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We entered the ship on the 01 deck. For all the decks that have a zero in front of another number, you would pronounce the zero like the letter “O” and then say the other number. It sounds like, “oh one, oh two,” etc. The 01 deck is where most of the Healy enlisted crew lives. The 01 deck is the uppermost part of the red part of the hull. You can walk almost all the way around the ship on the outside on the 01 deck. It is the deck that leads out to the bow of the boat. The bow is the curved, front part of the boat.

Part of the science lab is on the 01 deck, aft of the living quarters at the stern of the ship. The stern is the back of the ship and aft means to go towards the back of the ship. Example: I would have to walk aft in order to get to the stern of the ship or I would have to walk forward to get to the bow of the ship. (Quiz on the boat terminology later…just kidding!) The main engine control room is also on the 01 deck, deep in the interior of the ship. I have to pass it as I go through a series of 4 to 5 watertight doors on an interior route to the science lab if I am moving aft from the mess deck. Which is below the big white box at the stern.

You can go upstairs by taking ladders that are inside the living spaces, or you can take the ladders that are on the sides of the outside of the ship. At least 3 of the outside ladders are visible in the picture of the portside of the Healy at dock.

The rest of the science labs are inside the stern of the ship on the main deck. The outside area where all the sampling equipment is put overboard is called the fantail of the ship. It is just a big, squared-off stern.

Healy’s Fantail - This is where much of the science happens – the fantail at the stern of the ship. You can see the yellow port and starboard side cranes on the fantail as well as the yellow A-frame at the very back of the ship.
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The MST crewmembers mostly use the A-frame pulley and winch system to raise and lower the science equipment for the scientists. I saw the crewmembers use the crane on the starboard side of the fantail to raise and lower the landing craft and the crane on the portside to lower trash and raise cargo while at port in Dutch Harbor. Gee, I wonder why they call the left side of the ship the port side? Can you see which side of the Healy is facing the dock at the port of Dutch Harbor in the photo?

The mess deck is on the main deck that is one floor down from the 01 deck and then the laundry room and workout room are both on the same level, one floor below the main deck. The scientists’ staterooms are on the 02 deck (pronounced oh two), which is one up from the 01 deck. The forward part of the 02 deck leads out to the focsle, a small, outside platform below the bridge where they store the brow when it is not being used at the dock. The portholes of the 02 deck can be seen as the bottom row of windows on the big white box at the bow of the ship.

Healy Decks - The 02 deck where my stateroom is located is the bottom row of portholes of the big white box at the bow of the ship. The next deck up and next row of portholes up is called the 03 deck, then the 04 deck where the captain, officers, chief scientist, and wardroom are located, then you can see the rectangular windows all around the bridge. Aloftcon is the black box with a white railing around it above the bridge.
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The hangar for the helicopters, (helicopters are called helos; pronounced heelohs), is also on the 02 deck, the same deck that my stateroom is located. The helo deck, where they launch and recover the helos, is aft of the hangar. We only have one helo, which is a civilian, contracted helo on this cruise, but the helo hangar has room to hold 2 helos. The crew assembles on the helo deck every day at 12:30 p.m. for a brief meeting that is called quarters.

It seems like the higher up on the ship you go, the higher the ranks that live there. The 03 deck has a lot of chiefs’ and officers’ rooms, while the 04 deck is where the captain, the chief scientist, the highest-ranking officers, and special guests have staterooms. These are the successive rows of portholes up from the bottom row of the white box.

One more floor up from that takes you to the bridge, which is where they steer the ship most of the time. It has all the instruments used for navigation. There is a row of rectangular windows across the front and sides of the bridge. Patty and I love to stand at these windows with binoculars to watch for charismatic mega fauna (big, popular animals). If you climb a few more ladders, you can get to aloftcon. Aloftcon is above, or aloft of the bridge. I have seen the crew drive the ship from here when the ship encounters heavy ice floes so that they can look for leads, or big open cracks in thick ice floes.

Ok, I wasn’t kidding. There is a quiz. How might I get to aftcon from the bridge and what do you think aftcon is? The challenge is to see if you can use the ship terminology for directions. Scroll down for the answer.

Answer: I would move aft, towards the stern, and down. In fact, I would have to move down 4 decks to the 01 deck. Aftcon is where they control the equipment on the stern, or fantail of the ship. Can you tell how the terms aft and con are applied in that word? They can even drive the ship from aftcon if needed. The day that the trawl was lost, the Captain was maneuvering the ship by verbal command from aftcon. That is because the trawl is normally raised and lowered from the fantail and it was caught on ice behind the ship.
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