By Lauren Frisch
Arthur Levine, an able-bodied seaman on the R/V Sikuliaq, has discovered he loves working in the arctic.
Levine grew up surrounded by naval officers and other boat-oriented professionals. “Hearing their stories, and then sailing during high school got me wanting to work out on a ship as well,” he said. Levine decided to attend the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he focused on marine transportation and earned a third mate’s license.
Levine started working on the Sikuliaq in March 2016. As an able-bodied seaman, he helps out with anything and everything involving the ship’s deck. This includes running cranks, helping to deploy scientific instruments, keeping the ship clean and maintained, and working on the bridge as a lookout.
Levine likes the variability of his tasks, and the ability to gain experience in all different kinds of work. “One of the things I really enjoy about working on the Sikuliaq is that it’s different every day. I could be doing routine maintenance one day, helping deploy scientific equipment another, and visiting a village the next. That mixes it up a bit, and keeps the work exciting and rewarding.”
One of his favorite parts about working on the Sikuliaq is learning to travel safely and operate machinery in and near sea ice. This involves determining if ice is safe for both travel and scientific experiments, and learning to navigate through icy waters.
“Working on the ice is completely different that anything I’ve done on a ship before. I am learning how to detect different kinds of ice, thinking about what types of ice to avoid, and considering how to go through it most effectively and safely.”
Levine explains that working around the ice was totally new to him when he started his job on the Sikuliaq, but it is becoming one of his favorite aspects of his job, and something he hopes to continue to pursue as his career unfolds.
Levine also gets to travel out onto the ice with science parties. “When we’re working in the ice, I’m trained to actually go out on the ice and walk around with the scientists, making sure the ice is safe. That’s really fun.”
In his current role on the ship, Levine is also able to leave the ship every once in awhile to visit communities near where the ship is working. In fall 2016, Levine participated in two community trips to Point Hope and Golovin, where he learned about local perspectives on regional change, and got to talk with local residents about what it’s like to live and work on a research vessel.
“A lot of times I’m still trying to understand details in the science that our researchers are doing onboard,” Levine said. “But looking at the big picture, it’s about much more than the details. It is great to work with researchers who are documenting the wide variety of changes that our oceans are experiencing.”