Whilst the blog is primarily focused on the science activities of our vessel, we will try from time to time to speak to some of the officers and crew onboard. During the break in science yesterday, I spoke to the captain of RRS James Cook, Bill Richardson, to find out what it’s like to be in command of the vessel and what he enjoys about the job.
How long have you been captain of RRS James Cook and what did you do before?
I've been assigned to the JC for the last 12 months. That equates to three scientific cruises. The first was this time last year and took us from Punta Arenas to Glasgow, via Las Palmas. The second was in the North Atlantic and towards the end of last year I re-joined in Cape Town for a southern Indian Ocean ROV cruise.
Before I came to the James Cook I was working on the Discovery - before that I worked on cable ships and survey vessels.
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of the job?
My least favourite part is what we're doing as I write this - waiting for the weather to improve so that we can work. The best part? Steaming for port at the end of a successful project!
What’s the most exciting expedition you’ve been on and where would you
like to visit that you haven’t been?
They're all exciting - occasionally for the wrong reasons! Last year's ROV project provided some great footage of very remote seamounts with an amazing variety of life and some incredible views of volcanic vents. A few years ago I was involved in a project that involved locating and identifying ship wrecks with an ROV, there were a few tense moments but we managed to retrieve some interesting items and captured some gripping images.
I've never been to New Zealand, so I think a nice long mobilisation in Auckland would be a good way to spend a couple of weeks; I'm sure we could fit in a bit of coastal scientific work afterwards.
What’s a typical day like in command of a research ship?
There is no typical day, which is part of the appeal. Aside from routine admin, it's a matter of adapting to the daily requirements of the cruise.
You must see all sorts… can you share with us your funniest story at sea?
It would be hard to do this job if you couldn't see the funny side of (nearly) everything. There are very few days where we're not having a chortle at someone's expense - usually mine!