Sunday, June 12, 2011

The "Nathaniel B. Palmer"

Back in January and February, several ships came down to visit McMurdo Station. The first of these was the Swedish icebreaker Oden. The Oden hung around for several weeks, continuously breaking up the ice in and around the ice pier near Hut Point. Following on the heels of the Oden was the research ship the Nathanial B. Palmer (known for short as the Palmer, the Natty B, or NBP) named after the first American to sight the Antarctic Peninsula. The Palmer carries scientists who are on research missions throughout the Antarctic. They spend a great deal of time at sea, studying sea life and other oceanographic issues. The ship also stops by Palmer Station on the peninsula during its travels. During its stop at McMurdo, the crew offered tours of the ship to those of us who lived on station.

The Oden arriving on station followed by the Palmer, the small dot in the distance (you may have to enlarge the photo to see it).

The Palmer waited for a day off the coast while the Oden docked, refueled, and left.

A few days later, McMurdo residents were allowed on board the Palmer to tour the ship. Here is the footbridge to the ice pier where the tour started.

Here is a computer station where oceanographic data is monitored and collected. Bill, the guy in the blue fleece, worked as an IT guy in the Crary Lab on station and led our tour.

The galley of the Palmer, which is apparently pretty nice for a ship's galley. Even still, many of the people that had been living on the ship were excited to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in the McMurdo galley during their visit.

My friend Nate pretends to be captain in the ship's command center; in truth, he has no idea what he's doing. :)

The command center was completely surround with windows allowing an expansive view of everything around the ship.

A walkway surrounded the command center outside. I got jelly legs walking on it since it's suspended so high above the ship. Parts of it hang out over the sea as well.

A view of the broken sea ice around the Palmer from the walkway.

The front of the Palmer as seen from the walkway around the command center. The new ice pier lies to the right of the ship and the old, defunct ice pier lies ahead.

Enclosed lifeboats were attached to the side of the ship in the event of an emergency; for obvious reasons, these boats are sealed from the outside as well as heated.

A view of McMurdo Station behind the back end of the Palmer.

My friend David on the walkway around the command center. It really does stick out into the air. :)

The outside of the command center with a view of the sea ice.

So, I can't remember what these were for, but it struck me as important at the time. :) I think they contained floatation devices of some kind... (If anyone who toured the Palmer remembers, let me know and I'll update the blog.)

A view of the back of the Palmer. While this ship serves mainly as a research vessel, it is also an icebreaker, and this end would be the "front" if it were breaking ice.

Me and the Natty B :)
More on the other ships as well as the seasonal changes in the sea ice in the next few posts. :) Next weekend is the Mid-winter Party and this Thursday is a full lunar eclipse. If the weather is good, I should be able to get some photos to post. :)

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