Very little mention has been made to the scientific command post so far and yet it is one of the ship’s neuralgic centers, especially for the scientists (and Martin). It is from the command post that the controls for lowering, raising and closing the rosettes start, it is from the command post that the strategic orientations are decided, it is from the command post that is invaded by screens of all sizes and types that colleagues are woken up as gently as possible by telephone to warn them that the rosettes/pumps are rising. In a corner of the command post we find Lloyd and Cédric scrutinising the deep biology (a screen with lots of little coloured dots, very nice!). In another corner, on a sofa, people are working on their computers or falling asleep, hypnotised by the breathtaking view of the sea (and the fatigue). It is at the command post that one comes to see the watch leaders, that one finds Sibylle if she is not running the ship, armed with her camera, that Elodi struggles with the rebellious current profiles. It is also at the command post that one has to pick up helmets, boots, chairs, loose mugs and cups of all sizes. It’s at the command post that the distribution of chocolate, jokes of all kinds are carried out. The daily 5.30 pm meeting with the captain takes place at the command post. Finally (and most importantly?) the cruise chief scientist is at the command post. They are both present from 10am to 10pm, then on duty in turn from 10pm to 4am and from 4am to 10am because they have to sleep (a little). In other words, they are the centre for general information of all kinds at all hours of the day and night.
The cruise chief scientists collect the sampling desires for the coming station, prepare a proposal for sharing the collected water, have to revise it under the sympathetic but firm lobby of those who are dissatisfied and greedy, escape to go and make the “water cop” of the ongoing sampling, come back to update the LogBook, photocopy and archive the precious sampling sheets, redo the planning, find a time slot to update the navigation with Corentin and Sara and simply take the time to exchange with each other.
This is not an exhaustive list of the many questions (in both languages) that the heads of mission are also trying to answer in the heat of the moment. Among our favourites:
“What time is the next station”? (it’s displayed 3 metres away); “I can’t find the sheet for the 60” (in the pink folder); “How much is a stamp for France?” (and yes, we also traded stamps before the Crozet and Kerguelen stops); “We do have the meeting at 1 p.m.? (question asked every day without exception, this meeting is daily!); “may I give you my wishes for the next station?”. (6 hours after everyone else); “by the way, have you thought of putting my depths for the…beep… (anonymity obliges)? “(yes, even if he had forgotten to ask for them), followed by “can I check? Ah, Yes, it’s ok, thank you! “; “I’ve been thinking, and actually, do you think I could change my depths? “(usually during the descent of the rosette, with the effect of making us make right clicks at record speed; “you don’t know where X would be by chance? “(check off the useless mention: she passed by 2 minutes ago in this direction or maybe that way; he sleeps; she’s on watch; he eats; she picks up… but as far as Laurent is concerned, we don’t know…); “excuse me, I’m bothering you here… But I just have a little thing to ask” (depending on the time, every 2 to 5 minutes…).
In short, the command post, a nice place that our colleagues used to visit a lot, but from which we got out little by little at least 15 minutes a day to go and admire the sea! And the worst thing is that we love you all and that we’re going to miss you!
From the command post to Earth, we are on our way back…
Authors: Catherine Jeandel (CNRS, LEGOS, Toulouse) et Hélène Planquette (CNRS, LEMAR, Brest)