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RV Meteor and (never) back again

by Jochen Wollschläger, Claudia Thölen and Michelle Albinus

Arrival on the Meteor on 21.12.2021, geo-lab, main deck. After the greeting, we are told that our cabins are distributed on the different decks. They hand me my key. Cabin 736. My non-existent sense of direction sounds an alarm – how am I ever supposed to find my way around here? I move toward the door that leads from the geo-lab to the interior of the ship and open it. “Red deck,” I hear behind me. I step into the hallway in front of me and a grin creeps onto my face. All the doors and wall elements on this level are painted a rich red. Maybe I would find my way around here faster than I thought.

RV Meteor M179 – Patagonia

The FS Meteor with home port Hamburg is a 98 m long and 17 m wide research vessel, whose 10 decks are spread over 46 m total height. The day begins first in the mess, the dining room on the tween decks, on whose dark red door the menu for the day is already displayed in the morning. Three meals are served daily, specially prepared in the galley and distributed to crew and science by the stewards/stewardesses. In addition, the afternoon coffee break fills the waiting time for the evening meal, during which one can make oneself comfortable with cake or other pastries in the briefing room next door.

While the engines for the ship’s propulsion are operated in the belly of the Meteor (the maximum cruising speed is about 12 knots, which is the equivalent of about 22 km/h), most of the daily work takes place on the main deck (red deck). Most of the 19 laboratories are located here, with the exception of some special facilities such as an air-conditioned laboratory unit on the tween deck (dark red deck) or an air chemistry laboratory on the 5th superstructure deck (blue deck). The laboratories can be used by scientists to process their samples, which either come from underway systems or are obtained through stationary sampling. These take place primarily out on deck with crew support.

Meanwhile, to discuss scientific matters or the further course of the cruise, the cruise participants can meet in the conference room on the same deck. Adjacent to this room there is also a library where you can browse through technical books and all kinds of novels for your free time on board. Especially during longer expeditions, the ship becomes all the more a home for all involved – all the better that there is even a small laundry with washing machine and dryer one floor up on the forecastle deck (orange deck). In addition, the hospital of the ship’s doctor is located here. If you can still stand on your feet after a hard day and want to do some physical exercise, you can visit the sports room on the 1st superstructure deck (yellow deck), where you can go cycling, rowing and boxing, among other things.

At the end of the 2nd superstructure deck (light green deck) is the weather station of the German Weather Service (DWD), as well as the cabins of the captain and the officers, who hold their exchanges about the route, navigation and weather forecasts on the 4th superstructure deck directly above on the bridge.

Finally, hidden on the 3rd superstructure deck (dark green deck) is a small alcove with a telephone for calls all over the world. In case one should actually get homesick …