NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson begins post-Hurricane Maria survey work in Puerto Rico

Route taken by NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to Puerto Rico. To avoid weather and rough seas from Hurricane Maria, Thomas Jefferson traveled along the leeward side of the Bahama Escarpment.

With news of Hurricane Maria’s devastating effects on the infrastructure of Puerto Rico, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson—originally scheduled to survey the approaches to the ports of Houston and Galveston following Hurricane Harvey—changed course. It was evident with the widespread flooding, winds, and storm surge that critical ports were paralyzed, and large ships with fuel and supplies were prevented from entering safely.

Coast Survey first sent NOAA’s mobile integrated survey team (MIST)—a mobile, quick-install side scan / single beam sonar kit that can be quickly set up on a vessel of opportunity—immediately following the storm at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard. MIST completed the emergency hydrographic surveys in the Port of Arecibo, an important fuel and chemical port. However, there is much more work to be done both immediately and in the long-term. Continue reading “NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson begins post-Hurricane Maria survey work in Puerto Rico”

Echo sounder encounter: NOAA Ship Rainier finds uncharted shipwreck

By Katy Pridgen

In late spring, while surveying off the coast of Long Island in Kodiak, Alaska, NOAA Ship Rainier found an uncharted shipwreck. Although rocks around the shipwreck were previously charted, this sunken vessel is a new feature. What made the find unique was how the top of wreck’s mast resembled a yellow light at the water’s surface. The Rainier crew fondly nicknamed it “ET’s finger.” Continue reading “Echo sounder encounter: NOAA Ship Rainier finds uncharted shipwreck”

Have a question for NOAA Coast Survey? Meet our “Answer Man”

By Nick Perugini

Nick PeruginiAs the nation’s nautical chartmaker, NOAA Office of Coast survey serves a wide range of customers ranging from recreational boaters and operators of cargo ships, to historical chart enthusiasts. Customers throughout the world send us questions, comments, and also chart discrepancy reports, letting us know they found an error on a chart. As the Coast Survey “Answer Man,” I manage this communication, including Coast Survey’s response. Customers submit inquiries through our Inquiry and Discrepancy Management System (IDMS) database. Continue reading “Have a question for NOAA Coast Survey? Meet our “Answer Man””

NOAA travels to Puerto Rico to help ports recover from Hurricane Maria

NOAA loads the MIST kit and crew on board the USCG C-130 aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 21, as a strong Category 4 hurricane. The storm brought sustained winds of 150 mph and dropped over 18 inches of rain in some areas. Although these islands have seen their fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms, the last storm of this intensity to hit Puerto Rico was the San Felipe Segundo hurricane in 1928. The widespread flooding, winds, and storm surge from Hurricane Maria devastated the islands leaving them without power and their critical ports paralyzed as debris, shoaling, and damaged infrastructure prevents large vessels from entering safely.

Continue reading “NOAA travels to Puerto Rico to help ports recover from Hurricane Maria”

NOAA Ship Rainier concludes it’s 2017 survey of Deer Passage, Alaska

The total area surveyed by Rainier in the Cold Bay and King Cove Vicinity during the 2017 Field Season, complied by Hydrographic Senior Survey Technician Gahlinger.

NOAA Ship Rainier has been diligently surveying Deer Passage in the vicinity of Cold Bay and King Cove, Alaska, for the past month.

This navigationally significant area between Unga Strait and Sanak Island provides the only protected route for vessels transiting between the Gulf of Alaska, the very busy Unimak Passage, and the Bering Sea beyond. Deer Passage is heavily trafficked by fishing vessels, coastal freight traffic, and Alaska Marine Highway System ferries, and serves as an alternate route for deep-draft vessels on Trans-Pacific routes between North America and Asia. While in the area, Rainier observed particularly heavy use of the waterway by vessels engaged in local and Bering Sea fisheries, and towing vessels supporting remote Alaskan communities with barge service.

Continue reading “NOAA Ship Rainier concludes it’s 2017 survey of Deer Passage, Alaska”

NOAA helps ports recover in Georgia and Florida following Hurricane Irma

View of the first fuel ship entering the Port of Tampa after Hurricane Irma, as it passes NRT 5.

Just as Hurricane Harvey response was wrapping up for some of NOAA Coast Survey’s navigation response teams (NRT), personnel and survey assets were positioned in preparation for the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.   

For the NRTs, this meant traveling hundreds of miles with a survey vessel in tow, facing challenges such as locating fueling stations, finding available lodging, and finding opportunities to rest. For the mobile integrated survey team (MIST), which is available to travel anywhere in the U.S. when hydrographic survey assistance is needed by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), this meant finding transportation to a disaster area and a  “vessel of opportunity” to survey from once there. Continue reading “NOAA helps ports recover in Georgia and Florida following Hurricane Irma”

NOAA positions personnel and survey assets in preparation for Hurricane Irma

Projected path of Hurricane Irma as seen in nowCOAST™.

As Hurricane Irma approaches Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm, NOAA is positioning personnel and hydrographic survey assets to help speed the resumption of shipping post storm. In the wake of a hurricane, NOAA’s personnel and survey assets provide essential information when ports need to quickly but safely re-open, limiting significant economic losses caused by prolonged disruptions to the maritime transportation system. Continue reading “NOAA positions personnel and survey assets in preparation for Hurricane Irma”