Saturday, February 11, 2012

Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer

In 1992, ECO, Galliano, Louisiana, built and delivered a 94-meter (308 feet) research ship with icebreaking capability for use by the U.S. Antarctic Program. The ship, Nathaniel B. Palmer, is a first-rate platform for global change studies, including biological, oceanographic, geological, and geophysical components. It can operate safely year-round in Antarctic waters that often are stormy or covered with sea ice. It accommodates 39 scientists, has a crew of 22, and is capable of 75-day missions. The Palmer is ice-classed ABS-A2, Icebreaker Class 3 capable of breaking three feet of level ice at 3-5 knots. Cruising speed is 10 knots and max speed is 15 knots. 

The ship is named the Nathaniel B. Palmer to commemorate the American credited with first seeing Antarctica. Nathaniel Brown Palmer, then 21 years old, commanded the 14-meter sloop Hero, which on 16 and 17 November 1820 entered Orleans Strait and came very close to the Antarctic Peninsula at about 63° 45' S. Later in his life, Palmer also won wealth and fame as a pioneer clipper ship master & designer.

The Palmer was here at McMurdo for a couple days offloading science and scientists and loading freshies and some new scienctists. Sadly, it is only used about 100 days a year due to budget cuts and rising operating and fuel prices.  I was fortunate enough to get a tour and was surprised at how nice it is, how much science is going on and how freakin' awesome, cool and big the bridge deck is!

The Palmer in Winter Quarters Bay with Ob Hill in the background.

The Palmer leaving McMurdo with Mt Discovery on the horizon.

Travis trying to steer the ship, aauugghhhh!!

These massive and colorful doors open for dropping stuff into the water.

One of the labs onboard.

Another lab.

The galley.

Outside of the bridge deck.

Control central.

A huge, nice space on the Bridge.

The Palmer docked at the Ice Pier.

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