from the rig floor

This quilt is a nod to a mode of communication once used extensively in the maritime community, and to the crew members on JOIDES Resolution that play a significant role in getting scientists access to subsurface ocean material.

Quilt measures 44 inches wide by 56 inches tall and was completed July 1, 2023.

Hanging quilt with red, silver, and black fabric

Quilt in the colors of and with a message from the drillers on JOIDES Resolution

Drillers looking at core material on a ship

On the rig floor, the first core from Hole U1557D sees daylight on a beautiful afternoon somewhere in the South Atlantic. (From MerlinOne, Credit: Sandra Herrmann, IODP JRSO) [Photo ID: 106_ exp390_716.jpg]

First, the colors… The colors used in this quilt are intentional. The bright red color represents the work coveralls worn by the Siem drillers. The three silver/metallic stripes in the quilt are for the three areas of stripes on the coveralls – on top of the shoulders, around the upper arms and patches on the back, and around the lower legs. The black squares on the front of the quilt are letters in Morse code and are a nod to the black logo and lettering on the back of the coveralls for Siem Offshore.

Group of drillers on a ship deck posing for a photo around a used drill bit

On the rig floor the Siem drill crew and Steve Midgley (Operations Superintendent, IODP JRSO) gather around a rotary core barrel (RCB) bit that drilled for 61 hours and 185 m of depth penetration. (From MerlinOne, Credit: Sandra Herrmann, IODP JRSO) [Photo ID: 065_ exp390_531.jpg]

Morse code was used in the quilt to convey a message that was shared across the ship intercom while drilling was underway. This Morse code chart (from Wikimedia Commons), along with an image you can zoom into of the quilt, should help one decode the message! I also used same black fabric for an entire letter to assist with solving the puzzle.

Animated GIF of the seven black fabrics used in the quilt
The top half of the Morse code quilt, with red, silver, and black fabric

Close-up of Morse code included on top-half of the quilt

I asked the JR Captain of Expedition 390 if Morse code is still in use on the ship. He shared that all officers should be very familiar with Morse code, as vessel fog signals and maneuvering signals are done in Morse code and have specific signal letter meanings. For example, “E” is used for “I am altering my course to starboard.” The letter “B” is used for “I am being towed (fog signal).” The letter “U” means “You are running into danger.” And the letter “O” is for man overboard. He also stated that Morse code can be used for more complex communication, and can be done by means of flashing light, sound, radio telephony, or hand flags. All of these codes are described in the International Code of Signals, which is published by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) and is required to be onboard all ships. However, with the use of modern radio and satellite communications, the need to use Morse code is rare.

Quilt details (click to read)

The red and silver fabric was purchased at The Crabby Quilter (Annapolis, MD). The black-patterned fabrics are a Three Cats Shweshwe fabric manufactured by Da Gama Textiles in South Africa. For Expedition 390, JOIDES Resolution departed from and returned to port in Cape Town, South Africa. Longarm quilting services were completed by The Old Country Store Fabrics in Intercourse, PA.

Quilt measures 56 inches tall by 44 inches wide and was completed on July 1, 2023.

A silver metallic fabric stripe in the middle of red fabric

Close-up of one of the silver stripes of fabric in the quilt, with the flecks of glitter representing the reflective fabric on the work coveralls