Office of Coast Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

December 6, 2017

Hello Coast Survey,

Over the past two weeks, each of our hydrographic ships returned to their respective homeports safely. It has been quite a field season and each ship has a lot to celebrate this year. Here are a few highlights.

NOAA Ship Rainier completed a multi-year survey project off the coast of Washington in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. They also surveyed the nearshore waters in the Channel islands National Marine Sanctuary during the months of October and November. In both projects, the ship collected bathymetry data to update nautical charts as well as generate backscatter imagery, which the sanctuaries use for habitat mapping. Between projects, Rainier collected bathymetry off the coast of Morro Bay, California, and shared this data with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Details of this project are provided in the spotlight section below.

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson collected high resolution multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data in Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine in support of deep sea coral research and hard bottom benthic habitat mapping. Thomas Jefferson also spent three weeks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands surveying ports and bays in response to Hurricane Maria. Over that three week period, the crew surveyed 13 areas and no fewer than 18 individual port facilities, as well as conducted emergency repairs to three tide and weather stations.

NOAA Ship Fairweather focused their survey efforts in western Alaska. Fairweather located the wreck of the F/V Destination, a crabbing vessel that sank in February 2017 off the coast of St. George Island in the Bering Sea. They also surveyed the mouth of the Yukon River, supporting remote communities and using the opportunity to validate satellite-derived bathymetry of the area. Finally, Fairweather focused survey efforts on Port Clarence in the Arctic. Port Clarence is a natural harbor located south of the Bering Strait that provides shelter to an increasing number of ships traveling via the Northwest Passage.

NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler spent much of the field season alongside in Baltimore, Maryland, for repairs. In late summer, Hassler surveyed the Approaches to Jacksonville, Florida, as the area is in need of updated survey data to meet the needs of larger, fully loaded ships transiting into the Port of Jacksonville.

Thank you to the officers and crewmembers onboard our hydro vessels. The survey work you do is critical to the maintenance of our nation’s infrastructure as well as the safety of all mariners. Most importantly, however, we are happy you have returned safely.

Rear Admiral Shepard M. Smith
Rear Admiral Shepard M. Smith