03. Cruise Letter #2

Dong-Ha Min’s cruise letters from P18 CLIVAR/CO2 Repeat Hydrography expedition in the Pacific Ocean (2007/2008)

Letter #2


I wish I could say I am sailing in the Pacific Ocean by now… Unfortunately, I am still stuck in the San Diego Navy Base due to the ship’s mechanical problem and other things still coming up with surprises. I’ve been going to the sea on the research ships for twenty plus years and this has been the worst by far in terms of complications caused by bad lucks and incredible bureaucracy. I’ve been through many bad situations before but this is so bad..

We actually sailed today, well a few miles, from the Navy dock to the nearby fueling station on the other side of the bay. It takes almost all day to fill up the ship’s fuel tank… alas… we had to leave the fueling station (that is gas station for ships) by 3:30pm for other ships booked up for the space without being able to fill up our tank… We still need to find a way to fill up the fuel tank before we set sail, as it would be difficult to get access to a large capacity fueling station in the South Pacific. The broken propulsion generator is still apart for repair….. heart-breaking… Chief scientist and I are getting more white hairs if not losing…

Well, let me show my room to you (see the attached pictures). On a ship, we call the living space (berthing space) a stateroom. This ship has many floors (or decks), and I am on 03 level, which means 3 floors up from the main deck. Some people stay below the water line (01 platform) while others stay above the water line (01, 02, and 03 level). Usually officers stay above and the general crew stay below the water line. Our labs are on the main deck. I climb up and down the stairs dozen times a day… good exercise I guess.

The attached pictures show the 4 corners of my stateroom. I use the lower bunk in this room and share with an other scientist. I have a cabinet, drawers, desk space and chair, one bunk (bed), wash basin, and a shared bathroom. The shared bathroom is an interesting one. Like a Jack-and-Jill bathroom, 2 adjacent staterooms share the same bathroom which has a toilet head and shower. That means 4 people use the same bathroom space. The bathroom has 2 doors on both sides and locks on inside and outside… so you would lock it on both sides from inside when you use it (of course you should unlock them after the use so other people can use it). When you return to your room, you lock it from outside… strange, huh? Even stranger situation is that certain stateroom pairs (jack and jill pair) are occupied by males on one side and females on the other side… Naturally, females are uncomfortable even though they can lock up the bathroom when they are using it… Not ideal, but that’s the life here.

There is a huge hospital ship, “Mercy”, docked right next to us here. It used to be a tanker ship and modified as a hospital ship. It has 1000 beds and 9 operating rooms and many ERs. It was sobering to see that size military hospital ship… The medical officer on our ship explained to me that it went to the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster area and also hurricane hit areas recently… It sounded better than utilizing it for thousands of wounded soldiers…

More later,

Dong-Ha Min