Chikyu Report
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Chikyu: A Truly Impressive Vessel!April 9, 2012

I had been eagerly awaiting the ship tour since the day we set sail, and once the storm passed, the night crew, which includes yours truly, finally got to go. The Chikyu is by far the largest vessel I have ever been on; she’s approximately 210 meters in length and 130 meters in height (from hull to the top of the drilling derrick). Before I left New Hampshire, I was joking with my friends that my biggest fear about the expedition was that I would get lost in the ship on the first day and not found until we come back into port the end of May.

The first stop on the tour was the pipe assembly area, where we had the opportunity to see how the roughnecks, the crew that works on the drill rig, prepares the drill pipe to make the 8-km journey down into the seafloor. Each pipe segment is 9 meters long. It takes a huge winch to pick up each segment of pipe and get it into place. Once two pipe segments are aligned and ready to be connected, a machine called the iron roughneck comes in a screws the pieces together. It is amazing to watch the whole process. Chikyu has been preparing pipe for a couple days now, and they are still going. That is A LOT of pipe.

The pipe assembly in action

In the engine control room we met the chief engineer, who told us about some of Chikyu’s operational capabilities. The Chikyu runs off 8 generator engines, which together are capable of generating enough power to run 3000 average-sized homes! There are also 6 thrusters that allow Chikyu to maintain her position in the water to within a few centimeters! There are also four fresh water generators onboard that produce an amazing 200 tons of fresh water a day. With all these capabilities, Chikyu can travel 9000-km or roughly 100-days without needing to resupply.

Me sitting in the driller's chair

Chikyu is a truly impressive ship, and I am excited to see the rig floor in action when we start drilling.

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