By Cmdr. Mark Van Waes, former commanding officer of NOAA Ship Fairweather
Mount Fairweather stands tall above Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, dominating the skyline for miles around (when weather permits visibility). Only about 12 miles inshore from the Gulf of Alaska and soaring to 15,325 feet, it is one of the highest coastal peaks in the world.
NOAA kicked off its spring season for post-Sandy hydrographic work on April 11, as a navigation response team — equipped with high-tech surveying equipment — began a search for underwater storm debris and mapped the depths surrounding Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Navigation Response Team 5 wrapped up their project today, after surveying over 110 linear nautical miles. They surveyed for 119 hours, collecting over 578 million depth measurements.
In addition to surveying around Liberty Island and Ellis Island, Coast Survey’s NRT5 surveyed adjacent areas to acquire data for updates to NOAA’s nautical charts. This is the “rainbow” coverage map that shows the surveyed area. (The colors indicate depth.)
Countries issue advance notice for changes in electronic charts
To comply with internationally agreed practices, Canada and the U.S. have been eliminating overlapping coverage of electronic navigational charts (ENCs). New changes will soon take effect in the Great Lakes. Under the new ENC coverage scheme, each country is changing their areas of coverage so that only one country’s ENC is available for any given area at a particular scale.
These changes come into effect 0000 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), on 22 February, 2013.
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.
As conditions go downhill, NOAA is deploying personnel and hydrographic survey assets to help speed the resumption of shipping after SANDY clears out.
Coast Survey has deployed navigation managers from outside Hurricane Sandy’s areas of impact, supplemented with headquarters personnel, moving them to areas expected to be hit hard. Navigation managers are now at U.S. Coast Guard Incident Command Centers for New York – New Jersey and for Delaware Bay. We are also working with Coast Guard Captains of the Port for Virginia, Baltimore, and New England. NOAA’s navigation managers are working with the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate deployment of NOAA’s navigation response teams (NRT) for rapid maritime response. They are also identifying vessels of opportunity, for potential use with Coast Survey’s mobile survey team (MIST).