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Most of the action on the Bigelow during trawling cruises starts on the back deck. The net reels hold the nets used for the trawls, and are used during trawl operations for letting out and recovering the net. The stainless steel checker holds the catch and feeds the catch into the conveyors that go into the fish lab for processing. The trawl way ramp guides the net to the water and gallows area where the nets are connected to the trawl wire and hooked into the doors.
The area on the aft starboard side O-1 Deck has deck tie downs to accommodate either a cradle for a small boat (pictured) or a storage container for operational equipment. Port side O-1 Deck has the Fast Rescue Boat for emergency use.
The ship's bow holds the anchor windlass, used to raise and lower the ship's ground tackle (anchors). The forward mast lowers so that scientists on cetacean/sea turtle abundance surveys have an unobstructed view for visual surveying.
The bow thruster is an AC Induction Azimuthing Thruster rated at 720 kW (966 HP). Used primarily for maneuvering the vessel using the Dynamic Positioning system, the 360 degree bow thruster gives the ship multiple capabilities maneuvering at slow speeds, beyond forward and astern propulsion of the single propeller.
The bridge is equipped with numerous dedicated systems including:
Nearly all of these systems are solely controlled from the bridge, allowing scientific and operational systems to be totally independent. All scientific and fishing systems can be monitored from the bridge via remote consoles or SCS interfaces.
The Bigelow's centerboard has mounts for various sensors and hydrophones. The centerboard can be lowered as far as 10 feet below the keel. Controls are located on the bridge, and indicating lights are located in the accoustics lab. The centerboard can also be raised to a maintenance position so that sensors can be mounted without divers.
The multi-beam echo sounder (MBES) operates at a frequency range from 70 and 120 kHz. This MBES is unique in that it acquires targets from both the water column and the sea floor. Currently there are only 3 of these systems in existence. Future upgrades will allow for International Hydrographic Organization quality bathymetric data collection. This will support Henry B, Bigelow's dual purpose mission by allowing for hydrographic data collection anytime the ship is underway.
The dive locker is used for storage of dive gear, and houses the air compressor for dive and SCUBA tanks.
The flying bridge is a multipurpose space used as an observation deck for certain scientific cruises in addition to the stowage of emergency equipment and signaling devices. While underway on cetacean/sea turtle abundance surveys, observation stations are set up on the flying bridge for observers to use high power binoculars, or "Big Eyes." The gyrocompass repeaters give the observers true direction to communicate to the bridge which direction they would like the ship to steer. There are Scientific Computer System (SCS) communications ports where the observers can download ship's data simultaneously with each sighting.
The Bigelow's gym features an elliptical machine, stationary bike, rowing machine and free weights.
Information and samples from the water column may be collected by means of two winches. One winch has 4300 meters and the other 1200 meters of cable; both provide up to 5 tonnes of pull. Low voltage instrumentation can be deployed from the 1200 meter hydrographic, while instruments require a power feed or deeper capabilities are deployed from the 4300 meter hydrographic winch. Water column profiles are routinely made. Plankton nets and other such research devices may also be deployed from this these winches on side sampling station.
A satellite internet dome provides internet access to shipboard scientists while at sea. This allows for live communication and the exchange of ideas from any point in the world. Certain points in the ship also have wireless network, allowing access to the Bigelow's networks and the internet.
The lounge is equipped with a 60" LCD television that has access to satellite programming, real time chart display and the ship's movie library.
The Bigelow has a diesel-electric drive system using four diesel generators to produce power to drive two electric motors. The motors turn one shaft which rotates the propeller. Overall rated horsepower for main propulsion is 3017hp.
The oceanographic winch system consists of 10,000m of cable and can be used for a variety of towed instruments.
The Bigelow's propeller is 4.3 m (14.1 ft) in diameter, with fixed pitch blades.
This system measures salinity, conductivity, and both internal and external water temperature. It also calculates sound velocity in the seawater it is testing. Plankton populations are monitored as well. Seawater is delivered by two pumps supplying a continuous flow of uncontaminated seawater that is accessible at the side Sampling Station, Dry Lab, Wet Lab, Chemistry Lab, Chemistry Alcove and on the back deck.
Sea temperature is constantly monitored via 3 separate sensor located at different depths on the Bigelow’s hull. These sensors are calibrated on a yearly basis.
Heat and light energy from the sun is monitored and logged by the Bigelow with two radiometers.
The Bigelow has many creature comfort not usually found on research vessels. Visitors to the ship are berthed in 2 person staterooms with a private bath and shower. Each stateroom has a porthole, computer with 24hr/7day internet access, satellite television, climate controls and phone for both ship-board and outside parties via a voice over IP connection . Furthermore, each television on the ship has access to the navigational display on the bridge and the movie library.
Each trawl winch has 3000m of 1” wire rope used in conjunction with an advanced auto trawl system. This system is integrated with the Pentagon net monitoring system and constantly monitors cable tension and adjusts wire out to keep the net flying correctly and on the bottom allowing for a straight and accurate trawl.
The Bigelow deploys two scientific SONAR systems for the study of fish and plankton biomass. The Simrad EK60 vertical beam echo sounder (VBES) has an array of four transducers at 18, 38, 70, 120 and 200 kHz respectively. This provides information on water depth, and locations and size of fish schools. The EK60's transducers are mounted on a movable centerboard that can be extended to a 3 and 6 meters position below the ship's hull, along with a flush mount and maintenance position giving access to the transducers from inside the ship. The 18 kHz transducer is the deepest penetrating SONAR onboard the Bigelow, with an effective operating depth of 5000m.
Weather data is continuously collected by the Bigelow while at sea. Two general purpose anemometers monitor the relative wind speed and direction. SCS combines this with the ship's heading and speed to calculate the true wind speed and direction. Barometric pressure, humidity, and air temperature are also measured. These data are uploaded daily to the Shipboard Automated Meteorological and Oceanographic System (SAMOS) via the satellite internet link and an associated event logger. This information and data from numerous other vessels is compiled and made available to researchers around the world.
For fisheries surveys, the Bigelow is capable of trawling the new Four Seam Fisheries Research net. All of the net sensor data is fed into SCS and logged for post-tow processing and stored as an "event" in the SCS. The oceanographic winch system consists of 10,000m of cable and can be used for a variety of towed instruments.