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 conducting standard hydrographic stations using various oceanographic samplers. Upon completion, students should be able to set up and conduct a hydrographic station and collect accurate data using various types of marine instrumentation.

Course Hours per Semester:

1 Credit Hour , 48 hours of Lab


MSC 114


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 216 provides an eight 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 provide students additional experience with scientific and navigational watch standing procedures aboard ocean going research vessels. 
  3. To provide students with an opportunity to conduct meteorological observations, determine and plot positions, reduce and display acquired data. 
  4. To train the student on the classical and contemporary oceanographic instrumentation utilized in a variety of scientific research projects. 
  5. To provide the students experience with the proper methods for safely taking an oceanographic station. 
  6. To provide the students with an opportunity to conduct and compare scientific investigations in both the waters of the offshore mid-Atlantic region and the Chesapeake Bay estuarine environment. 
  7. To provide the students with the educational experience of visiting a large urban aquarium, the National Aquarium in Baltimore


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 216 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 216
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 sampling gear; lab analysis of water samples obtained and log sheet maintenance.


Each watch will be broken into two teams, the Navigation/Weather Team and the Scientific Sampling Team. Each team will have a team foreman assigned and/or chosen and it will be their responsibility to organize and delegate all team responsibilities. Each team carries the responsibility of sharing the workload and learning experiences equitably. The team foreman will make sure all data is turned into the Cruise Supervisor (instructor) at the end of each cruise leg. It is not the responsibility of the team foreman to perform any work duly delegated to team members. Assignment sheets must be turned in to the cruise supervisor showing what duties each team member is responsible for prior to arrival on any station or at the start of each cruise leg.

Navigation/Weather Team:
  1. Recommend to or advise the watch officer:
    1. Determination of and recommendation to the watch officer, courses and heading from station to station.
    2. Speed of the ship [within limits prescribed by the watch officer].
    3. Estimated time of arrival at new stations and corrected ETA’s when ETA change exceeds ten minutes.
    4. Course and heading changes when required. Course and/or heading changes will be three degrees or greater.
  2. The Navigation watch will maintain a plot, on Mylar, and submit it to the Cruise Supervisor at the termination of their respective cruise leg. The following information should be included:
    1. Dates and cruise number of the plots, along with respective chart data.
    2. All movements of the ship from the appropriate sea buoy [e.g. 2CF at Cape Fear River] to Baltimore and back.
    3. All position determinations and type of position.
    4. A continuous cruise track line with annotations of all stations and/or towing operations.
    5. Fixes by GPS and Loran at least once every 30 minutes when under way and upon arrival and departure of every station and/or towing operation. Visual fixes may also be utilized while in proximity to charted aids to navigation.
    6. Set and drift shall be determined on each transect of steaming that is two hours or more or when on a station for 30 minutes or longer.
  3. Advise the Scientific Sampling Team of all station ETA’s and be on call during stations to answer any navigational questions and/or to supply meteorological data that may be pertinent to sampling operations or necessary for completion of various data sheets.
  4. The Navigation Log Record of the ship’s movement should be maintained continuously while in open waters. All forms must be complete.
  5. Maintain the Weather Log. Measurements and entries should be made every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day.
  6. A running meteorological data graph vs. time should be maintained continuously for the entire cruise leg. Temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, and wind direction should be plotted on an hourly basis.
Scientific Sampling Team:
  1. Perform all duties associated with conducting an oceanographic station, including, operating the winches, classical and contemporary oceanographic instrumentation setup and use, proper entry and reduction of data on all associated log sheets, and the proper chemical and/or electronic analyzation of water samples.
  2. An XBT will be utilized on several selected stations or while underway.
  3. A niskin bottle cast will be executed at every station. The number of bottles will vary depending on the depth and/or
    thermal structure. When conducting shallow water cast the bathythermogram will determine where the bottles are spaced
    on the wire. Standard depths as proposed by the International Association of Physical Oceanography should be observed
    when sampling at depths of 200 meters or more and should include unprotected DSRT’s on every bottle below 200 meters. The A-sheet oceanographic log should be used to record all niskin bottle observations. Completion of all entries and
    applicable calculations must be provided to the Cruise Supervisor upon the completion of each cruise leg.
  4. Water samples will be drawn from every niskin bottle and analyzed for:
    1. Dissolved Oxygen
    2. Salinity & Conductivity
    3. pH (may be excluded)
    4. Nitrite / Nitrate / Ammonia (may be excluded)
    5. Other variables as specified.
  5. All data from lab analyzation should be recorded on the proper log sheets, organized on a per station basis, and graphed vs depth.
  6. Additional equipment and their respective log sheets that may be utilized on various stations.
    1. Clarke-Bumpus plankton sampler
    2. CSTD [tethered array or self-contained SEABIRD]
    3. Irradimeter
    4. Isaac-Kidd Midwater Trawl
    5. Neuston Net
    6. Various miscellaneous sampling gears


All students will be expected to tour the National Aquarium while in the port of Baltimore. The College will provide entrance fees. Further details will be furnished upon arrival in Baltimore.

Good Work Ethics Should Lead to Career Success

Cape Fear Community College and employers recognize the importance of good work ethics. The standards that govern the conduct of persons in the workplace are known as work ethics. More specifically, a person’s conduct, such as punctuality, honesty, motivation, reliability, cooperation, thoroughness, and creativity, pertains to the values, abilities, and behaviors that he or she brings to the job. Studies show that employees’ lack of ability to do a job accounts for only 15 percent of firings and dismissals. Of the other 85 percent, employers often give the following reasons for letting employees go:

  • Frequent absences from work
  • Habitual lateness
  • Inability to get along with other workers
  • Dishonesty
  • Lack of reliability
  • Failure to use resources properly

CFCC instructors want you to be prepared for further education and success in the workplace; therefore, they have classroom and shop/lab rules and standards. Below is a checklist for assessing your commitment to school/work ethics.

  • I understand the importance of quality, the importance of doing a school/job assignment right the first time.
  • I am motivated, and I accept responsibility without close supervision.
  • I am receptive to new ideas, methods, and processes; and I pursue emerging technologies.
  • I speak and write effectively in a clear, concise, and professional manner.
  • I function in a team environment that requires working for the good of the whole.
  • I am dependable and reliable at school/work, reporting to my classes/job on time and completing assignments within the required time.
  • I am honest in my dealings with instructors, supervisors, students, and co-workers; and I display a cooperative and supportive attitude.
  • I dress appropriately for school and the workplace and maintain a neat, clean appearance.
  • I manage my time effectively and look for ways to be more efficient at school and on the job.
  • I maintain a clean, orderly school/work space and leave it ready for use by others.

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