Remembering Rear Admiral Richard T. Brennan

NOAA Ship Rude
Captain Brennan portrait

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Richard “Rick” Brennan, Director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. Rick passed away the evening of Thursday, May 13, 2021. A loyal and deeply empathetic leader, Rick served the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and nautical charting community for nearly three decades. Rick will be remembered for his passion for NOAA’s mission, as a role model for countless employees, a talented and knowledgeable hydrographer, and a man dedicated to family and friendship.

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Coast Survey to shut down the Raster Navigational Chart Tile Service and other related services

NOAA will shut down its Raster Navigational Chart (RNC) Tile Service and the online RNC Viewer on October 1, 2021. The NOAA Seamless Raster Navigational Chart Services will be shut down on January 1, 2022. This is part of a larger NOAA program to end production and maintenance of all NOAA traditional paper and raster nautical charts that was announced in the Federal Register in November 2019.

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NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson returns to survey approaches to Chesapeake Bay during the 2020 field season

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

By Hydrographic Assistant Survey Technician Sophia Tigges

For the first portion of the 2020 field season, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson surveyed approaches to Chesapeake Bay. Thomas Jefferson’s 2020 field season consisted of two 45-day “bubble” periods. A “bubble period” is the time a ship closes to personnel transfer while they shelter in place for seven days and undergo COVID-19 testing per NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operation’s COVID-19 protocol to mitigate exposure. The ship spent the entire first bubble working off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia for this project. These surveys served as a continuation of the ship’s work in the area in the 2019 season.  (To learn more about Thomas Jefferson’s work in this area last year, read the 2019 post titled, “NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson tests innovative DriX unmanned surface vehicle.”

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NOAA electronic navigational charts reduce accidents and provide benefits, study finds

NOAA ENC visible on a portable tablet on the bridge of a ship while navigating on the Mississippi River.

A nautical chart is one of the most fundamental tools available to the mariner. For nearly two centuries, they have provided the critical information for safe and efficient use of our nation’s waterways and for protection of our marine environment. Needless to say that most, if not all mariners have held a nautical chart in their hands, relying on the data to help them navigate safely. That confidence, the ability to avoid accidents, injury, and damage to property, has value, and this value provides the justification for chart production.

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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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Coast Survey Spotlight: Meet Fernando Ortiz

As a physical scientist, Fernando conducts a variety of tasks. One of his primary tasks is to review sonar and multibeam data as a quality control check. These reviews ensure that our data is accurate enough to ensure safe navigation.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.


Fernando Ortiz, Physical Scientist

“It’s rewarding to be able to utilize new scientific technologies and processes to collect this necessary data.”

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United States Coast Pilot® covering the Pacific now in two volumes

Coast Pilot 10 cover

What is currently known as United States Coast Pilot® 7 was first published in 1903. The official published name was United States Coast Pilot—Pacific Coast California, Oregon and Washington. Content and information was inclusive of those three states. After Hawaii became a state in 1959, information on the Hawaiian Islands—including the long string of islands and atolls out to Midway Island—was incorporated into the newly titled United States Coast Pilot 7—Pacific Coast California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. In 1988, information originally maintained by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency under Publication 126 on the remote Pacific Islands (American Samoa, Guam and the Marianas) was added as a new chapter.

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NOAA seeks industry feedback as it begins testing the Precision Navigation Data Dissemination prototype

By Julia Powell, Precision Navigation Program Manager, Chief of the Navigation Services Division

NOAA’s Precision Navigation program is building a prototype data gateway for users to discover, visualize, and disseminate NOAA marine navigation products and services. The backbone of this dissemination system is to provide for machine-to-machine dissemination that allows the mariners’ existing navigation software to automatically discover if NOAA has made new data available and ingest it directly into the system. NOAA’s integrated marine navigation services through this site will help ship operators optimize their routes, save fuel, reduce lightering and reduce port wait times based on environmental conditions.

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The Great Lakes are getting a digital upgrade

Screenshot of an ENC for the Pelee Passage Southeast Shoal.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey collaborated with U.S. and Canadian mariners, the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), and the Canadian Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) to update the Recommend Courses in Lake Erie and transfer them from paper charts to NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®). This bi-national effort involved compiling and updating information for Lake Erie’s 75 routes which span both U.S. and Canadian waters. These routes cover 20 NOAA and five Canadian ENCs.

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The Future of Seabed 2030: From Vision to Action

As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect not only on our accomplishments throughout the year, but also the exciting challenges that lie ahead, particularly in the field of hydrography. In late October 2019, Rear Adm. Shep Smith, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey and chair of the International Hydrographic Organization Council, delivered the keynote address at the Seabed 2030 Summit at the Royal Society in London, encouraging participation in the grand global challenge to map the world’s seafloor by the year 2030. The following is a video and transcript of this presentation.

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