Meet the Crew – Sam Martin
By Dacia Harris
Sam is originally from a small coastal town in Virginia. She went inland to Kansas State on a full rowing scholarship. She earned her BS in geology, which she chose because she loves being outside. After graduation Sam moved to Atlanta, Georgia, working in the biogeochemical lab at Georgia Tech for approximately 2 years and then joining an environmental consulting firm as a geologist for a year. During this time Sam’s future husband mentioned that she might enjoy being on crew for a NOAA ship. With this in mind, Sam spent six months going through the NOAA application process, which included an interview and background check. Sam’s first NOAA ship assignment was in Alaska. She stayed on that boat until heading back east joining the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.
On the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, Sam is the head survey technician, which means that she, in conjunction with the Operations Officer, is the liaison between the scientists and the boat crew regarding the equipment on deck. She is also in charge of the deck operation safety, such as reminding the crew and scientists that they must wear their hard hats, life vests and tethers. When not working directly with the scientists, she uses onboard equipment (CTDs, acoustics, etc.…) to gather additional information for NOAA. This includes post-processing of raw data from multibeaming to remove outliers that would create inaccuracies. Her quality control leads to accurate mapping of depth at exact latitude and longitudes.
When asked about life aboard a vessel such as the Nancy Foster, Sam explained the cruise length is based on how much food they can store. The ship will have to come back into port every 2-3 weeks or so, but they do not come back to home port in Charleston, SC every time. This means they may be out at sea for two months at a time. When the Nancy Foster does come home, the crew is still required to work their daily shifts in their floating office aboard the ship. The length of missions for the ship is variable, depending on the need, and therefore the crew may only be in port for a few days before setting out again. Sam enjoys her position and the freedom for traveling places she may not otherwise have.