"The Sun, the Sun, from the Meteor"
24 November 2013, Karin Sigloch
Chance encounter in the Indian Ocean: research vessel "Sonne" in the foreground, "Meteor" in the background.
"The Sun, the Sun, from the Meteor" -- the German equivalent of this call went out from the ship radio this morning, when our captain called another ship barely visible on the horizon. It is a rare occurrence for two research vessels to meet unscheduled on the open ocean. For the two big German vessels "Sonne" ("Sun", in service since 1977) and "Meteor" (1986), it was the first time ever, and will almost certainly remain the only time, since the "old Sun" will be retired upon her successor's launch in mid-2014.
Hence we really wanted to meet when ten days ago we learned that the Sonne would be mapping the Central Indian spreading ridge in the immediate vicinity of our station RR51, and in just the right time window. The chief scientist on the Sonne agreed, which generated considerable excitement among the crews of both ships as well.
It was a majestic moment when the venerable "Sun" crossed ahead of us around noon and laid itself beside the Meteor. Unfortunately this photo could not capture the music. From big loudspeakers, we greeted the colleagues with treasures from the German lieder trove: heart-warming pop from the past century ("Where my sun is shining", "Red sun of Barbados"), followed by Rammstein's "Here comes the Sun" and "If I'm not here, I'm on the sun deck".
Before long there was indeed busy boat traffic between the decks of the two ships. We marveled at how this former fish trawler, built in 1969, is still equipped with the most up-to-date research infrastructure. Around 5 p.m., we parted ways again to continue our work, very pleased with the special Sun-day we had spent.