In mid-May I got an E-Mail forwarded by my supervisor with the subject “student voor vaartocht” – and even though my Dutch skills are rather limited I immediately knew that this was my big chance to go on a research cruise within my PhD. Coming from theoretical physics, I had only a slight idea about observational oceanography if any, so it was clear that I could benefit a lot from such an experience. Some E-Mails and one and a half months later I stood in Reykjavik at the pier, ready to board the American research vessel Neil Armstrong to discover the subpolar North Atlantic within the OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) project.
On board were three research groups from the U.K. (SAMS), US (RSMAS) and the Netherlands (NIOZ) and the crew, together more than 40 people. Thanks to the collaboration of IMAU with NIOZ I could join this one-month long journey as part of the NIOZ team. The main goal of the cruise was the recovery and re-deployment of 19 moorings, as well as taking around 100 CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) profiles across the Iceland Basin and Irminger Sea. Equipped with all kinds of sensors, the moorings were deployed there two years ago and continuously measured temperature, salinity, current speed and pressure along the water column.
Being prepared for the hardship of ship life – admittedly possibly influenced by Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf” which I was reading on the plane – I was surprised that life on the ship was quite comfortable and, above all, filled with all kinds of meals during the day, most prominently the “cheese-thirty” event at half two pm and the infinite stock of ice cream aboard. If I think back, perhaps only the ship-coffee matched my expectations.