July 21, 2006
The engine controls described yesterday manage prop speed and propeller pitch for the starboard side and port side engines. On the other side of the Engine Control Panel is a touch screen which is known as "M.A.C.S." (Machinery Alarm and Control System)
The MACS is a high tech application for control of all of the systems other than navigation. It is connected with the engine and machinery for various systems on the ship, for example, exhaust temperature, generators, lights, bow thruster, bilge, fuel oil, auxiliaries, etc.
Another important piece of equipment is the GMDSS, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, which uses VHF (very high frequency) radio signals on two channels 13 and 16. These provide communication from ship to ship. Channel 16 is the hailing standard for ship emergencies and is monitored by the U. S. Coast Guard. Channel 13 is for all other ship-to-ship communication. VHF allows communication of up to approximately 60 miles.
There are MFHF (Medium/High frequency) radios, also part of the GMDSS suite. These radio waves range from about 2MHz-20 MHz and allow for longer distance communication which can actually go worldwide! It has been known to send communications over 8000 miles on certain frequencies.
Other communication devices include: the SAT-C which is a text system via satellite for distress information, the NAVTEX receiver relays weather information and the EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. EPIRBs use 400 KHz and are unique to each ship since each ship is registered. EPIRBS are detected by satellite if a ship is in distress. Did you know that there are twelve sound powered phones on the ship?
On the bridge is a panel of sensors for fire and heat. Smoke detectors are located around the ship. The ship is divided into twenty-six zones. On the main panel, there is a light indicator for each zone. Should any of the smoke alarms go off, the bridge crew would know immediately where to look for the problem.
These are some of the main pieces of equipment you will find on the bridge of the NOAA Ship Fairweather. What an awesome place to be when the Fairweather is set in motion and departs for our scientific expedition!! Everyone was hoping it would be tomorrow!!