Long workdays and long vacations
March 29, 2009
Support staff from Raytheon Polar Services Corporation (RPSC) help scientists with the ship’s logistics, science equipment, chemicals, labs, computers, and electronics. Several have assisted on previous cruises with our group, and their experience with our research has been valuable this time around. While the science groups prepared for spending 40 days at sea, the support staff have been working through three months of continuous ocean deployments. With work schedules so different from those on land, life (and work) on the ship is quite different for these individuals.
A typical workweek is 84 hours long—technicians work twelve-hour shifts seven days a week. For many positions, two technicians provide 24 hours of support for the science groups, with each shift from 12:00 to 12:00. On some days, technicians even work a little longer than 12 hours so they overlap during shift changes. The outgoing person can inform the incoming person what is happening, and can work on projects that require two people. For the positions that only have one person onboard, such as the MPC and, in this case, the network administrator, a schedule from 8 AM to 8 PM is maintained to reflect when most activity is happening.
Since RPSC staff work such long workweeks onboard, they are encouraged to work no more than three months at one time. In a year, they try to work a total of six months which, at 84 hours a week, is nearly equal to working for a year at a typical full-time job in the United States. Getting all of their work done in half a year allows the flexibility of traveling or taking up second jobs other times of the year.