NOAA releases 2022 hydrographic survey season plans

NOAA Ship Fairweather in College Fiord, Alaska

NOAA hydrographic survey ships and contractors are preparing for the 2022 hydrographic survey season in U.S. coastal waters and beyond. The ships collect bathymetric data (i.e. map the seafloor) to support nautical charting, modeling, and research, but also collect other environmental data to support a variety of ecosystem sciences. NOAA considers hydrographic survey requests from stakeholders such as marine pilots, local port authorities, the Coast Guard, and the boating community, and also considers other hydrographic and NOAA science priorities in determining where to survey and when. Visit our “living” story map to find out more about our mapping projects and if a hydrographic vessel will be in your area this year!

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Underway from Alaska to California encountering a new phenomenon, cellular service

Image showing NOAA Ship Fairweather turning towards the Golden Gate at the end of the project.
By ACHST Simon Swart, Operations Officer Lt. Shelley Devereaux, and HST Adriana Varchetta

After six months of surveying in Alaska, NOAA Ship Fairweather was ready to point the bow south and set sail for San Francisco Bay. However, an unforeseen circumstance stymied the planned underway date. Although we eagerly anticipated the warmer waters of San Francisco Bay, this delay was well received by the hydrographers in the survey department and amongst the NOAA Corps officers. Our work had begun stacking up due to an extremely busy season, coupled with the fact that for most of us, this was our first time working on hydrographic project sheets. Therefore, we happily used this week of “down-time” to complete previous project sheets and plan for the upcoming survey. Those of us as sheet managers focused on cleaning multibeam data, processing backscatter mosaics, attributing features, conducting quality control checks, and writing descriptive reports. This process was greatly assisted with the help of augmenting physical scientists Pete Holmberg and Janet Hsiao. In the end, we were able to finish processing a number of sheets and reach a comfortable place on all the others. After a week of long hours, we were finally ready to toss lines and say “see you next year Alaska.”

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New NOAA website provides marine navigation resources in a central location

Commercial vessels navigating in the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach

A recently launched website from NOAA’s Precision Marine Navigation (PMN) program will improve the use and accessibility of NOAA’s marine navigation products and services. The website, Marine Navigation, includes links and short descriptions to NOAA’s various navigation resources, providing a one-stop shop that mariners can visit to get the data they need. Designed for shipping professionals and recreational boaters alike, the PMN program hopes the website will become a valuable tool to support all mariners in their navigation planning and decision making processes.

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Aid to navigation recovery operations with NOAA’s Navigation Response Branch and the U.S. Coast Guard

Flushing Bay Channel Lighted Buoy 3 was struck by a tug and barge in late July, and was reported sunk immediately following the strike. The buoy marks the entrance to a channel frequented by commercial barge traffic, specifically, loaded fuel barges bound for LaGuardia International Airport. The Navigation Response Branch (NRB) was called upon in early August to assist United States Coast Guard (USCG) Sector New York in locating the sunken buoy in Flushing Bay, New York.

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NOAA concludes hydrographic survey response following Hurricane Delta

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson Launch 2904 surveying the Bar Channel, Calcasieu, Louisiana Approach.

This week NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey concluded its hydrographic survey response following Hurricane Delta. At the immediate request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), NOAA’s navigation response teams (NRTs) and NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson surveyed areas within the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), Calcasieu Ship Channel, and the entrance to the channel. With lessons learned from the response to Hurricane Laura — the first major hurricane of the 2020 season and the first hurricane response during a pandemic — the teams and Thomas Jefferson successfully collected, processed, and delivered data to the USACE, identifying significant hazards to navigation and helping to ensure the timely reopening of waterways.

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Nautical charts reflect alternate route along Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

Portion of Chandeleur Sound Gulf Intracoastal Waterway alternate route.

In anticipation of the temporary closure of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW)’s Inner Harbor Canal Lock, the Office of Coast Survey released three updated NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) reflecting the Chandeleur Sound Alternate Route and the addition of 97 Aids to Navigation (ATON). The updated charts include US5LA24M, US4LA34M, and US4MS12M and can be viewed in NOAA’s ENC Viewer or downloaded from NOAA’s Chart Locator.

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NOAA Coast Survey’s new strategy supports charting mandates and broader seafloor mapping

This week, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey released the Mapping U.S. Marine and Great Lakes Waters: Office of Coast Survey Contributions to a National Ocean Mapping Strategy. This report is part of NOAA’s ongoing commitment to meet core surveying and nautical charting mandates while supporting broader needs to fill gaps in seafloor mapping and environmental sciences.

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NOAA releases prototype surface current forecast data for industry testing

portable pilot unit on the bridge of a ship

Prototype data for surface current forecasts in the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-111 format is now available for testing through the NOAA Big Data Program. In June, NOAA announced that we were preparing surface current forecast data for dissemination trials. Now that these data are available, industry can integrate these prototype data into different types of navigation software systems such as portable pilot units and under keel clearance systems. By making these data more accessible, more machine-to-machine readable, and more integrated, NOAA aims to amplify the power of our navigation data for users across the maritime industry.    

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High-definition charts advance precision marine navigation

Vessel entering the port of Long Beach, California.

By Craig Winn, HD charting portfolio manager

For large vessels entering port where there is next to zero margin for error, pilots and shipmasters are looking for the highest resolution data available to help them navigate these tight spaces safely and efficiently. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey recently constructed and released 16 high-definition (HD), band 6 (or berthing scale) electronic navigational charts for Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor, providing mariners with the best charts available to do their job.

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