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Dispatch 16: Engine Room Tour

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Mengnan Zhao

October 3, 2015

With the ice station finished, we had a day before arriving at the next station, and today was the perfect time for a tour of the engine room. Would could satisfy our curiosity and finally see the heart of the Louis. 

The Louis is such a large ship that the engine room is incredibly complicated. I was lucky to have the company of Chinese Cadet Engineer Yede Cheng on board, which meant that before the formal tour (led by Chief Engineer Wake Collins), I had my private “Mandarin” tour with Yede.

Every activity on the ship relies on the engine room – the propulsion of the ship, our drinking and shower water, trash processing, emergency systems, heating and cooling, and so on. The Louis is equipped with five strong engines and we are currently using three. Three propellers drive the immense Louis in all directions, steered by the officers on the bridge for all our science stations. The water we use every day for showers and drinking is made directly from the sea water by a distillation process, and the resulting fresh water is purified with chlorine. The amount of the fresh water and chlorine is monitored in real-time by computers. It was exciting to know that we are drinking and showering in Arctic Ocean water. The trash we generate each day is burned in a giant furnace. We were also introduced to the compressed-air bubbler system that is used to push ice away from the side of the ship during rosette casts and mooring work. There is one room the engineers call the “limbo” room – there are so many complicated pipes on the ceiling that they have to do the limbo just to get around the room.

The day ended up with a movie night for a rare chance to relax. After this day of a relative lull in the science activities, we were refreshed for tomorrow’s adventure.

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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