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

August 15, 2018

Hello Coast Survey,

This week we kick off our planning for the next iteration of Coast Survey’s strategic plan for the years 2020-2024. It is an opportunity for us to decide where our energy should be focused and also prioritize a path forward for our organization. Our priorities are guided by many factors, but the primary one being the needs of our stakeholders.

I spent the first week of August in Anchorage and Nome, Alaska, and spoke with representatives from federal agencies such as BOEM and National Park Service, our hydrographic survey contractors such as Fugro and Terrasound, local ports and pilot associations, and many other organizations. Meeting with stakeholders and partners allowed me to listen to their needs firsthand, discuss emerging technologies, and share the direction Coast Survey is heading with regard to bathymetric data collection and electronic navigational charts (ENC).

The recurring theme throughout these meetings is the need for better observational data and models as well as larger scale charts. There is also a great need for surveys to occur in the approaches to the western Alaska rivers, the faces of glaciers and the associated fjords, lees of islands, ports of refuge, and the small villages that rely heavily on resupply from the tug and tow industry.

I feel that these are challenges we are ready for. The ENC rescheming effort outlined in the National Charting Plan will provide a more detailed canvas for the surveys of the future to be depicted, and the surveys that are in the archive to be placed on. Additionally, we are looking at creative ways to obtain bathymetric survey data. Much of this will be outlined in our strategic plan. This trip also provided valuable information for our upcoming HSRP meeting in Juneau at the end of the month.

Finally, I concluded my visit to Alaska by attending NOAA Ship Fairweather’s change of command ceremony where Cmdr. Marc Moser accepted command of Fairweather, replacing Cmdr. Mark Van Waes. I would like to, again, offer my congratulations of Cmdr. Moser and thank Cmdr. Van Waes for a job well done.

Rear Admiral Shepard M. Smith
Rear Admiral Shepard M. Smith
Director, Office of Coast Survey