About the Expedition

On January 21, 2010, scientists from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (CRED/PIFSC), along with visiting scientists from the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and local agencies in American Samoa, departed on a three month expedition to Johnston Atoll, Howland and Baker Islands, American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Kingman Reef aboard the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai. This is the fifth biennial Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) expedition to American Samoa and the seventh to the Pacific Remote Island Areas. The expedition is sponsored by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and is divided into three segment sequentially led by Chief Scientists Benjamin Richards, Rusty Brainard and Jamison Gove.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Safety First

by Jamison Gove
The NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai
Painted in sizable black letters and readily seen against the stark white background of the towering exhaust stacks are two important words: Safety First. These words provide not only a daily reminder of the often unpredictable and precarious nature of seafaring work, but also serve as a testament to the professionalism and commitment of those aboard the Hi'ialakai to conduct safe and impact free operations wherever the ship may travel.

Scientist Chip Young
dons a survival suit
The past few days have been spent instructing the new members of the expedition on the safety procedures in place aboard the ship in addition to providing refresher training for existing personnel. Abandon ship drills, life-raft familiarization, fire drills, dive-gear check outs, oxygen delivery and reviewing diver rescue protocols are just some of the trainings being conducted en route to Jarvis, ensuring that everyone aboard is well equipped to avoid a potential hazard and navigate any situation that may arise.

Chamber Supervisor Jim Bostick
provides an overview of the
recompression chamber

An intrinsic part of coral reef research is repetitive and arduous SCUBA diving. Since this expedition began, scientists have conducted over 2000 dives, quite a lot considering the ship left Honolulu just over 2 months ago!  Due to the high quantity of dives combined with the remote island locations visited during this research cruise, an essential piece of safety equipment carried on board is a Recompression Chamber, a 52-inch diameter pressure vessel used to treat dive related maladies such as Decompression Sickness (DCS). The chamber has been on the Hi'ialakai since the ship was first commissioned in 2004 as a vast majority of the research conducted on board is diving related. Although the chamber is autonomous, meaning it can operate independent of the Hi'ialakai's power supply, it does require a Chamber Supervisor to properly operate the chamber, a Dive Medical Officer (DMO) to coordinate medical treatment and a Dive Medical Technician (DMT) to tend and care for the injured diver inside the chamber. Each of these people are extensively trained and are present for every dive expedition the Hi'ialakai embarks on, providing security and piece of mind to each of us divers on board the ship.


  1. Can we see more of Scientist Chip Young?

  2. Thank you anonymous for your question! Chip Young plays an integral role in oceanographic research; you will undoubtedly see more of Mr. Young during this expedition.