NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson prepared for 2013 survey season

By Ensign Brittany Anderson, Junior Officer, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
After a quiet winter at home port, the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson completed her sea trials this week in preparation for the 2013 field season.
Each year, prior to departing for working grounds, the Thomas Jefferson transits to the Chesapeake Bay to perform tests on the ship’s and launches’ systems and hydrographic survey equipment. Crews conduct numerous tests to check the accuracy and precision of multibeam echosounders, side scan sonar, and the sophisticated suite of programs that process all the data. Additionally, this is an opportunity to ensure the safety of the vessel and her crew by performing numerous safety drills and readdressing safety standards and operating procedures.

Screen grab of sonar images
This is a screen capture of the simultaneous multibeam and side scan coverage of an obstruction used to verify the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson’s imaging and bathymetric sonars.

But it wasn’t all just tests and drills. During her transit, the Thomas Jefferson also deployed a GPS tide buoy to make real-time tides more accurate and efficient for the region.
Deploying GPS tide buoy from TJ
Jack Riley and Brian Murray from Coast Survey’s Hydrographic Systems and Technology Programs Branch assist with GPS tide buoy deployment.

Now that the vessels and equipment are ready for the season and the crew has their sea legs back, the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson will be returning to the Northeast this year to further update nautical charts for critical shipping and transportation regions.

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