NOAA releases 2018 hydrographic survey season plans

NOAA hydrographic survey ships and contractors are preparing for the 2018 hydrographic survey season. Operations are scheduled for maritime priority areas around the country and are outlined in Coast Survey’s living story map.

Story map of planned NOAA hydrographic survey projects in 2017.
Story map of planned NOAA hydrographic survey projects in 2017.

2018 planned survey projects:

  • North Coast of Kodiak Island – Last surveyed in 1932, this survey project focuses on areas inadequate for safe navigation, particularly along the corridor of vessel traffic transiting from Kodiak.
  • West of Prince of Wales Island – These complex waterways are critical to the economic success of local coastal communities on Prince of Wales Island. This survey project updates previous surveys dating back to 1916.
  • Tracy Arm Fjord – Frequently visited by cruise ships and tourist vessels, modern surveys will increase maritime safety and address the needs of the maritime pilot community.
  • Lisianski Strait and Inlet – This navigationally complex area experiences a large volume of marine traffic, with the vast majority of the inlet last surveyed in 1917. This project provides contemporary surveys for the area.
  • Southwest Alaskan Peninsula – This survey project updates nautical charting products to support the increase in vessel traffic in Unimak Passage. Fishing fleets in Bristol Bay and Bering Sea frequent this area.
  • Morzhovoi Bay – With parts of the bay last surveyed in the 1920s and 1950s, this survey project focuses on  areas inadequate for safe navigation.
  • Point Hope and Vicinity – Vessel traffic is increasing each year as sea ice recedes. Seventy percent of the area remains unsurveyed.

 Pacific Coast and Puget Sound

  • Puget Sound, Washington –This moderate to high traffic density area includes several ferry routes. Current surveys of the area consist of partial bottom coverage and in some areas, lesser coverage.
  • Channel Islands and Vicinity, California – This survey project provides data for crucial nautical chart updates and also generates backscatter data used in habitat mapping in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

 Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River

  • Chandeleur, Louisiana – This survey area includes active oil and gas exploration areas and future state-leasing waters and is also shoaler than 20 fathoms throughout. This survey will identify hazards and changes in bathymetry.
  • Mississippi River, Louisiana – The ports of the southern Mississippi River represent the largest part complex in the world and one of the most heavily trafficked waterways in the United States. This survey project supports new, high-resolution charting products for maritime commerce.
  • Louisiana Coast – This survey project addresses concerns of migrating shoals and exposed hazards in the vicinity of the Atchafalaya River Delta and Port of Morgan City.
  • Approaches to Houston, Texas – The current chart coverage of the area between Galveston Bay and Sabine Bank Channels shows numerous reported wrecks and obstructions. This survey will identify changes to the bathymetry and resolve position uncertainty in known hazards.
  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Florida – This survey project provides updates to nautical charting products of the area and supports marine habitat research projects through the National Center for Coastal Ocean Science and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

 Atlantic Coast and Puerto Rico

  • Approaches to Chesapeake Bay – This multi-year survey covers the approaches to Chesapeake Bay to support the safety of commerce and monitor the environmental health of the region.
  • Approaches to Jacksonville, Florida – The Port of Jacksonville entrance channel is in need of updated charts to meet the needs of larger ships.
  • Puerto Rico – NOAA will return to the island of Puerto Rico and conduct surveys to update the nautical charts in critical need of revisions following Hurricane Maria.

The 2018 field season will begin in April. That is when NOAA’s four hydrographic survey ships–Thomas JeffersonFerdinand HasslerRainier, and Fairweatherand private survey companies on contract with NOAA will tackle their assigned survey projects.
The NOAA ships are operated and maintained by the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, with hydrographic survey projects managed by the Office of Coast Survey.

5 Replies to “NOAA releases 2018 hydrographic survey season plans”

  1. A couple notes:
    1) The main part of Tracy Arm was mapped by USCGC HEALY in 2014 per the NCEI Bathymetry site; are findings from that survey and previous investigations being used to focus the effort of Fairweather this year?
    2) I keep seeing the caption under Rainier saying it’s underway when it is obviously flying it’s Union Jack and has an anchor ball plainly visible, from when we anchored north of Mitrofania Island. This time the caption accompanies the picture alongside the plans for the North Kodiak coastal survey effort.
    3) The NOAAS Fairweather image is from her first year, before her anchor well was painted black (I’m sure there’s a long story on that). Perhaps one of the newer photos could be used? I have a few….and there are probably more from H11759.

  2. Many thanks for this comprehensive look at the coming field season. There’s still a few of us “old salts” that like to keep up with what the NOAA fleet is up to these days. Who knows, we might be traveling by one of those places and can keep a weather eye out for one of those ships of the “Great White Fleet.”
    Charles A. Burroughs
    Captain, NOAA (Ret.)

  3. It’s great to see the diversity of projects throughout the country, supporting both marine navigation and environmental priorities. Keep up the good work!

  4. How can I join/become an officer on these amazing vessels and voyages!? I have a three year commitment with the Coast Guard and plan on becoming an officer here but would love to know my options for a transition after my service.
    Great work NOAA!

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