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Dispatch 16: All Hands on Deck - Part 2

Scientists, cadets, and the deck team watch the ITP recovery. Everyone on deck was thoroughly briefed before the operation. (Photo: Helen Gemmrich)
Rico Amamio directs the crane during mooring deployment. (Photo: Isabela Le Bras)
Quartermaster Glenn Keeping operates the CTD rosette winch. (Photo: Helen Gemmrich)
If you want to catch the decks covered in snow, you’ll have to look before the deck crew wakes up. Snow and ice are cleared before breakfast. (Photo: Helen Gemmrich)
Jerome Sibley, Roger Carew, and Greg Reid at the CTD winch. (Photo: Isabela Le Bras)

Helen Gemmrich

September 7, 2021

While navigation officers, engine room crewmembers, and the galley team mostly gravitate to one area on the ship, the deck team spreads out to do a bit of everything. Their tasks range from fuelling the helicopter to vacuuming the ship’s corridors and assisting with science operations. I’ve seen deckhands painting, salting the decks and shoveling snow. I’ve watched as they moved equipment around with the massive foredeck cranes or winched four kilometers of a mooring out of the ocean. In limited visibility conditions, they may be called to the bridge to assist with watch duties, and at ice stations, they’re on the lookout for polar bears. Our CTD rosette casts, “bongo” nets and mooring operations would not be possible without the deck team.

The deck department works from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for the night quartermaster, or leading deckhand, who works from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. In the maintenance period in the winter, when the Louis sits at the dock in St. John’s, there are six deckhands and two quartermasters. This shifts to five deckhands and three quartermasters in operational periods, for example on this science trip. On the bridge, the quartermaster is in charge of pointing the Louis in the mate’s chosen heading, nudging our way through the ice floes up north. At night, they also complete “fire rounds,” checking each nook and cranny on the ship to ensure that all is well in times with limited on-duty personnel.

The deck department reports to Chief Officer Andrew Gidge, manager of a seemingly endless to-do list and stacks of paperwork, and Boatswain Rico Amamio. As with all of the ship’s operations, safety is their top priority. Andrew’s checklists include ensuring that all necessary training, inspections, and drills are completed and that during deck operations, everyone is aware of where to be and what to do. Rico, who knows the Louis inside and out, then organizes the crew to complete the task. When not on science expeditions, common projects include deck equipment maintenance and loading, storing, and securing equipment and stores.

The Louis also has a designated carpenter, the only Canadian Coast Guard vessel where this is the case. When there are no construction projects on the go, you’ll most likely find Gary sharing his many stories and documenting the cruise as our unofficial trip photographer.