Sorry for no blog last Thursday, life onboard got in the way with practical tests I had to take along with helping other cadets feel better. Portions of this blog were meant to be sent out last Thursday.
Welcome back, Followers Of The Voyage –
This year’s voyage, so far, has been outstanding with fantastic weather, calm seas, and great port visits. Every day when I go out on deck, I have been greeted with the warm sunshine of the Caribbean along with
perfect temperatures and blue calm seas. I hope that everyone following our voyage so far has gotten into the rhythm of what it is like to live onboard the TS Kennedy and what cadets do on a daily basis.
On Wednesday we had another fire and abandon ship drill, although this one was like no other I have ever gone to. That’s because it was pyrotechnics day! On last year’s voyage we did not do this, so I was excited to see what was going to happen. Onboard the TS Kennedy we have all sorts of safety equipment from fire extinguishers to life rafts. Some of our safety equipment onboard are pyrotechnic devices which have expiration dates so they must be replaced occasionally. But what do we do with the pyrotechnics that are about to expire? We get to train with them! Onboard we have handheld flares, handheld smoke flares, and rockets that are handheld that fire into the air. We have all these pyrotechnic devices for us to use in case of an emergency so that other ships or planes could find us easier. After our drills were completed, all the cadets headed to the Helo Deck for the pyrotechnic display. We first had a safety meeting so that
everyone knew how to be around and handle the devices. They started by demonstrating each device. The first was a handheld smoke flare, when they lit it off bright orange smoke came pouring out of it and taken away by the wind. Then was the handheld flare which was lit and became an incredibly bright light with some smoke. Then it was time for the star of the show, the rockets. A senior cadet aimed it into the air and lit it off. It shot up into the air and went over 1,000 feet up making an incredible noise. Then as it came down it started to glow bright orange. After they demonstrated all the devices, we lined up to use them ourselves. I got dressed into a firefighting suit and helmet and was given a handheld flare to use. I pulled the cord to light it and then the very bright light started. It was like holding a mini sun in my hand on a stick, when it went out, I then properly disposed of it.
Onboard the TS Kennedy there are four meals served in the Mess Deck every day. Four? That’s right we get an extra meal called midnight meal at 2315 for us to eat. This is because when you get off of watch there is only one thing you want to do other than go to bed. You want the midnight meal. Some of the meals this week were buffalo chicken sandwiches, eggrolls, pasta dishes, and even handcrafted pizzas.
In St. Thomas the TS Kennedy made it onto the local newspaper’s front page with the headline “Renowned Training ship visits V.I.” with a picture of the TS Kennedy being assisted by a tugboat as it pulled into the port. The article then went into some of the humanitarian missions the TS Kennedy has been activated for.
Every grade at Massachusetts Maritime Academy is assigned a different color. The seniors this year are blue, juniors are green, sophomores are red, and the freshman are yellow. Our hard hats and our name tags are our respective color, so it is very easy to see what grade someone is in. I am a sophomore, so I have a red hard hat and red name tag.
Using the color code that McArthur shared, identify how many hats belong to:
A. 1/C (senior) cadets?
B. 3/C (sophomore) cadets?
C. 4/C (freshmen) cadets?
While the TS Kennedy was arriving and departing from St. Thomas, I was on watch in the Engine Room. When the Kennedy is pulling in and out of a port, we call that maneuvering which just means that the Bridge is going to need to change the speed of the ship multiple times. When we are out at sea just cruising along at the same speed inside the engine room the systems become stable and usually only need minimal intervention due to the automation built into them.
Most people think that the TS Kennedy works like your car at home with the person steering on the Bridge also controlling the speed and direction. But this isn’t entirely true. A better way to describe how it works onboard would be the Bridge steers the ship and they tell the Engine Room what speed and direction they want the propeller to turn. Those of us down inside of the Engine Room must respond to their orders quickly and safely.
This is not how it works on newer ships, but this is great for a training ship because it means that there is a lot that happens inside the Engine Room during maneuvering. The throttles (like the gas pedal in your car) is located inside the Engine Room so when the Bridge asks for a different speed or direction of the propeller, we will use the throttles which are two big wheels that we turn to change the speed and direction of the propeller. While in the Engine Room safety is always the number one priority with everything being watched over by trained professionals that know the TS Kennedy like the back of their hand.
Below, is a diagram of the Engine Order Telegraph. This is how the Bridge communicates with the Engine Room when they want to increase or decrease speed. It may remind you of the prize wheel on the game show Wheel Of Fortune.
Also, there is a photo of the TS Kennedy's Engine Order Telegraph on the Bridge and in the Engine Room.
When we left St. Thomas on Monday morning, we were immediately faced with rougher seas that are making the TS Kennedy pitch and roll. As we have been in port and have had very calm seas recently most of us are now realizing that we have lost our sea legs including me. So as the rolling continues, we will slowly get used to it again, just as we did in the beginning of our voyage.
On Tuesday, I am back in the Engine Room on watch with then two days of maintenance before we arrive in Fort Lauderdale where I have Friday and Sunday off. Hope you all have enjoyed this blog and if you have any questions or topics, you would like covered please email them in and I will include them in upcoming blogs.
Thanks for your excellent blog, McArthur! Some things are worth waiting for. Your blog is one of them. It says a lot about your character that you would apologize for missing your blog, and that you would write an extra-long blog yesterday.
You always add fun facts and extra details that educate all of us. Students would enjoy learning more fun facts about the engine room. We have also had a few questions about what happens to human waste on the ship. Are you ready to take that topic on?
Thanks again! You are adding so much to Sea Term.