Course Syllabus & Outline

Instructor: MT Staff, as assigned
Office Hours: As posted on office door, as scheduled, by appointment. Additional/Alternate times by appointment


This course covers the skills necessary to live and work safely aboard oceangoing research vessels. Emphasis is placed on maintaining a 24-hour navigation log and weather watch and safely conducting over-the-side biological sampling operations. Upon completion, students should be able to maintain a weather log, plot a cruise track, and safely use biological sampling gear.

Course Hours per Semester:

1 Credit Hour , 48 hours of Lab


MSC 110


Be a full time Marine Technology student or permission of the Department Chair


None required. Reference books are on the vessel.

Course Objectives:

  1. MSC 112 provides a five day training cruise to provide Marine Tech students with the experience of living and working with others aboard an ocean going research vessel. 
  2. To acquaint students with scientific and navigational watch standing procedures aboard ocean going Research vessels. 
  3. To train the students the proper techniques for conducting river water sample analysis and maintaining a river buoy log. 
  4. To introduce the students to the proper techniques of using various biological sampling gear. 
  5. To maintain continuous watch for sea turtles, sea birds and marine mammals and properly log all sightings.


Class Attendance: According to CFCC policy, a student must attend at least 80% of the scheduled class hours in order to receive credit for the course. Attendance is marked at the beginning of the cruise. Those not present at that time will be marked absent. Tardies will be marked any time a student is late for a roll call or assigned watch assignment. Watch assignments missed may constitute absences if conditions warrant such action.

Withdrawal: A student wishing to not participate on a cruise should withdraw before the cruise date. This will be recorded as a W with no grade penalty applied. If a student departs the cruise, absences will be logged and a grade of "F" will be entered after the 10th hour missed (20%), after which a student may not withdraw passing (WP) if prior arrangements have not been made with the instructor.

Conduct: At all times cruising students will conduct themselves in a mature and safe manner. While on liberty they should remember they are representatives of CFCC and the Marine Technology program and should continue to behave accordingly. The ship's Captain and your Cruise Supervisor will discuss additional safety rules to be followed while aboard the ship. This will be done prior to departure from the dock and/or during the safety drills.

Safety: Students must follow safety requirements. Students who ignore or violate safety requirements will be subject to discipline, which may include dismissal from the course. The ship's Captain and your Cruise Supervisor will discuss additional safety rules to be followed while aboard the ship. This will be done prior to departure from the dock, during the safety drills and/or while on station. Students are required to wear proper footgear (no barefeet, sandals or open-ended shoes) at all times while on deck. Work vests and hard hats will be worn at all times when performing over the side operations.

Evaluation Criteria/Areas:

  • Students must stand all assigned daily watches throughout the duration of the cruise and must satisfactorily complete all work assigned in conjunction with these watches.
  • Student's ability to work with others aboard ship.
  • Attention to manipulative and mental skills necessary for safe working habits.
  • Correct implementation of various oceanographic, meteorological and navigational duties.
  • Reduction and display of data, as assigned.
  • Timely accomplishment of duties.


A grade for MSC 112 will be based on the aforementioned criteria as shown below.
Performance of Scientific watch standing duties and assignments
Performance of Navigation/Weather watch standing duties and assignments
Attitude, aptitude and overall participation [by Ship's Captain]
Attitude, aptitude and overall participation [by Cruise Supervisor]
A minimum average grade of 68% is required to receive credit for MSC 112
The following grading system will be used for this class.
Numerical Equivalency
Quality Points per Sem. Hr.
92 - 100
Superior 4
84 - 91
76 - 83
68 - 75
0 - 67

[Student failed to complete required course assignment due to extenuating circumstances]

Withdrawal Passing  
Withdrawal Failing, computed as a Failure on transcripts


A: Outstanding performance by student. Exceeds all basic requirements. Student demonstrates high level of competency in course material. Student capable of independent work in field
B: Above average performance by student. Student exceeds some requirements. Student demonstrates good competency in field.
C: Average performance by student. Student meets basic course requirements. Student demonstrates adequate level of competency in field. Students can work in field with supervision.
D: Below average performance by student. Student barely meets course requirements.
F: Unacceptable performance by the student. Student fails to meet course requirements. Student does not demonstrate proficiency in field.


As a field/lab practicum for skills acquired in other Marine Technology courses, this course has no structured outline of instruction. Skills to be covered include: Safety aboard an oceangoing research vessel; living and working aboard an oceangoing research vessel; Weather, Navigation and Scientific watch standing duties; proper use of various types of biological sampling gear; collection of biological samples; identification & preservation of biological samples; lab meter analysis of water samples obtained and log sheet maintenance.

Project Description

This CFCC Freshman Spring Training Cruise is designed to introduce Marine Technology students to estuarine salinity gradients, differing bottom types and distributions of nektonic and benthic organisms in the near and offshore Coastal Carolina area between Wilmington, NC and Savannah, GA.

Student technicians will be assigned to one of two (2) work teams; the Navigation Team or the Scientific Sampling Team.

Team Responsibilities

Navigation Team
  1. making half hourly position checks
  2. maintaining the CFCC Navigation Log
  3. maintaining a continuous mylar plot showing:
    underway fixes plotted every 30 minutes (on the hour and half hour)
    fixes plotted for both arrival and departure times of each station
  4. advising the bridge before departing each station what the course is TO the NEXT
    station, making all set & drift corrections as needed
  5. maintain the Navigation Event Notebook
  6. provide to the Scientific Team all required navigational information (time to upcoming stations, station start/end times and locations, etc.)
  7. all logs and plots will be complete and turned over to the Cruise Supervisor
    before debarking for mid week liberty or at cruise end
    Students who are not present when it is their time to be on their assigned watch will be graded down.
Scientific Sampling Team
  1. safely conducting all over the side sampling operations, including winch
    operations and sampling gear use
  2. maintaining the CFCC Scientific Log; noting the time and location of all stations;
    the sampling gear used, and team members working the station
  3. making all required measurements on samples obtained and maintaining records
    of such, specifically:
    at all assigned buoys in the Cape Fear and Savannah Rivers, measure the
    salinity and pH using the refractometer and field pH meter
    graph salinity and pH vs miles upriver for the estuaries traversed
    listings of dredge and trawl catches and organisms held alive for use in aquaria
    back at school
  4. all logs and graphs will be complete and turned over to the Cruise Supervisor before debarking for mid week liberty or at cruise end
  5. There will be no personal collection of offshore animals. All live animals collected on board will be brought back to the school's Marine Biology Lab to be put in student aquaria. Should there be an excess of animals not used in the school's aquaria nor wanted by the NC Marine Aquarium, it will be the discretion of the instructor as to where these animals shall go.
    Students who are not present when it is their time to work a station on their assigned watch
    will be graded down.

Additional Assignments
  1. Maintain weather watch on 24 hr basis Navigation Team measurements and
    entries made every hour on the hour.
    Maintain a running meteorological data graph vs. time for entire cruise leg.
    (Temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure).
  2. Post Cruise Work: Much work is necessary once the ship is back in port.
    • Carrying samples back to lab.
    • Setting up aquaria with water and animals collected on cruise.
    • Cleaning the ship.
    • Cleaning the lab.

Do not leave until all work is completed and you have been released by your Cruise Supervisor or you will be graded down.

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