Surveying, rescue drills, and an open house—NOAA Ship Rainier has been busy!

by ENS Michelle Levano

NOAA Ship Rainier continues hydrographic survey operations in Chiniak Bay, near Kodiak, Alaska. As of June 1, 2017, Rainier and her survey launches have surveyed 2,025 nautical miles in the Spruce Island, Long Island, Middle Bay, Kalsin Bay, Isthmus Bay, and offshore Cape Chiniak areas. The total distance surveyed is about as long as the Mississippi River.
Rainier took advantage of its proximity to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Air Station Kodiak and performed two days of helicopter evacuation drills, while simultaneously conducting survey operations.
The drills were performed with the USCG’s MH-60T Jayhawk and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopters. Each helicopter practiced dropping and lifting a rescue basket, or litter, onto Rainier’s bow. Upon arrival, the MH-60T Jayhawk lowered a rescue swimmer aboard who held a safety briefing, and then demonstrated how to maneuver the tether and basket to the deck. Crew members rotated through to manage the tether and retrieve the basket. These drills provided the Coast Guard and Rainier’s crew with a valuable opportunity to practice rescue techniques.

NOAA Ship Rainier and USCG Air Station Kodiak performed rescue drills off the bow of the ship.

Additionally, Rainier held a two-day open house as part of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce’s yearly Memorial Day Crab Festival celebration. The ship was alongside in downtown Kodiak offering public tours, with over 300 individuals attending. This was a great opportunity for the public to see what the large white vessel in Chiniak Bay has been doing.
Levano VIP tour
ENS Levano provided a tour for members from the local Kodiak community.

As the season pushes on, so does the ship. Rainier has plans to open more survey areas around Cape Chiniak and William’s Reef area. So if you happen to be in the area and see a white hull with S-221 painted on her bow, please do not hesitate to contact the ship to acquire more information. Rainier monitors VHF channels 13 and 16.
Please contact NOAA Ship Rainier’s public relations officer at for more information.
rainier update
Surveys completed by Rainier and Fairweather from the 1960-present around Kodiak, Alaska (left). Rainier’s updated coverage as of June 10, 2017 (right).

One Reply to “Surveying, rescue drills, and an open house—NOAA Ship Rainier has been busy!”

  1. I’ve been concerned about the shallows near the north end of H13001 and SE corner of H12997. I misremembered that spot as being much farther offshore where the prevailing depths are similar to the surroundings of the offending shallows. I’m now confident that I was on the spot where you will soon survey.
    I hope that you had great weather to poke around the rock piles around the tip of Spruce Cape, in the center of H12996. That section came up while I was onboard, and I was on a boat that took a shot through those rocks a few days ago. It’s so heavily used that it should be marked. Sadly, the fact that it exists does not mean that everybody using the route knows where it is. I have seen many alternate paths through those rocks, and not all of them were successful.

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