Bathymetric AUV shows promise for NOAA surveying

In a step towards greater efficiency in NOAA’s hydrographic surveying, experts onboard the NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler just wrapped up the first extended testing of Coast Survey’s new bathymetric mapping autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). From Sept 3 to 13, the vehicle completed ten missions lasting up to 16 hours during day and night, while the ship continued with its assigned hydrographic surveys in the approaches to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

This AUV is equipped with high resolution seabed mapping equipment similar to the ship’s, including a high accuracy positioning system and multibeam echosounder capable of producing seamless maps of the seafloor.

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NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler starts new phase of operations

NOAA’s newest survey ship, the Ferdinand R. Hassler, arrived at her new homeport of New Castle, New Hampshire, earlier this month, and began her first New Hampshire survey project today. Hassler was commissioned in Norfolk, Va., in June 2012. She has been undergoing sea trials, training, and certification, and responded to Hampton Roads’ request for rapid survey assistance after Hurricane Sandy last year.

Hassler arrives
NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler comes into her new homeport in New Castle, New Hampshire

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NOAA hydro survey season underway

Spring is always a noteworthy time at Coast Survey, as the hydrographic season gets underway. This year is no exception, with some neat projects ahead.

On the East Coast, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson continues her work with the multi-state, multi-agency Long Island Sound Seafloor Mapping Initiative, as well as acquiring data over 87 square nautical miles in the approaches to New York to update nautical charts. In June, Thomas Jefferson begins some of her summer-long extensive 2013 post-Sandy surveys in Delaware Bay (supported by Title X, Chapter 2, of H.R. 152, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013).

As our newest survey vessel, NOAA Ship Ferdinand Hassler, prepares for a long survey career, the crew is taking her through final repairs, upgrades, training, and inspection this spring. If all goes well, Hassler will then survey approaches to Chesapeake Bay in July, before heading to her new homeport in New Castle, New Hampshire. Once there, Hassler plans to survey approaches to New Hampshire and conduct some tests and evaluations of a new autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) for surveying.

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NOAA’s navigation assets complete primary post-Sandy assignments, remain available to assist

NOAA continues to work in partnership with other federal, state, and local partners in response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. NOAA’s efforts are focused on navigation surveys to restore maritime commerce; aerial surveys to assist in those efforts and to aid on-the-ground responders from FEMA and local authorities; and in oil spill cleanup and damage assessment.  NOAA’s National Weather Service is also keeping authorities aware of changing weather conditions that could impact recovery and response efforts.

NOAA’s hydrographic survey vessels, including two three-person navigation response teams (NRTs) and the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson with her two survey launches, have completed surveys of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Working over the past five days, the high-tech vessels searched approximately 20 square nautical miles of shipping lanes, channels, and terminals to search for dangers to navigation.

Coast Survey navigation managers were embedded with the Coast Guard Maritime Transportation System Recovery Unit for the Port of NY/NJ, coordinating NOAA’s survey response. Lt. Brent Pounds, NOAA, explains ongoing survey operations to one of the port’s terminal operators during the height of operations.

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Post-SANDY navigation response in full swing

NOAA’s navigation response teams and other survey assets are in the water (or soon will be) as they respond to SANDY’s destruction, checking for underwater debris and shoaling that may pose a risk to navigation. Tasked by the U.S. Coast Guard Captains of the Port, NOAA vessels can use multibeam echo sounders or side scan sonar, as conditions warrant, to search for the answers that speed resumption of shipping and other vessel movements.

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NOAA Ship Hassler starts post-SANDY survey of deep draft routes to Hampton Roads and Baltimore

NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler departed from NOAA’s Marine Operation Center in Norfolk this morning, to start post-SANDY surveys of critical deep water channels.

NOAA’s newest survey ship, the Ferdinand R. Hassler, began survey operations today in support of the U.S. Coast Guard efforts to re-open the Port of Virginia. Hassler was in port at NOAA’s Marine Operations Center – Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia, for maintenance when Hurricane Sandy affected the area. The ship’s crew spent Monday completing the work and system tests necessary to get underway once the storm passed, and has now been returned to limited operational status.

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NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler submits survey of historic wrecks acquired during test and evaluation operations

by Lt. Madeleine Adler, NOAA, Navigation Officer, NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler

Three-dimensional model of the seabed in the vicinity of USS New Jersey (north) and USS Virginia (south) created with Hassler multibeam echo sounder data.

NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler recently submitted a multibeam echo sounder survey of two sunken World War I era battleships to the Office of Coast Survey. Hassler, which was commissioned earlier this summer, surveyed the site of these two wrecks while transiting through the area during test and evaluation operations in 2011, and has been using the resulting dataset for calibration purposes since then. Although the wreck locations were well known, they had never been surveyed with modern techniques.

The ships are USS New Jersey and USS Virginia, which were intentionally sunk during aerial bombing experiments in 1923. U.S. Army Colonel Billy Mitchell, a pioneer of military aviation, urged the Navy to investigate the effectiveness of aerial bombing against surface vessels. As part of a series of tests, the Navy anchored the two obsolete “White Fleet” battleships off Cape Hatteras in September 1923 to serve as targets. Bombers under Mitchell’s direction sank both ships in short order. The success of these tests had a significant influence on subsequent development of U.S. air power and air defense for naval vessels.

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