New private hydro vessel adds to nation’s capabilities   1 comment

Under beautiful blue skies yesterday in Gulfport, Mississippi, David Evans and Associates, Inc. commissioned its new 82-foot hydrographic survey and scientific vessel Blake. Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, Coast Survey’s director, welcomed the addition to the nation’s hydrographic surveying assets. DEA is under contract to NOAA to provide critical hydrographic data for updating the nation’s nautical charts.

At the Blake's commissioning ceremony were (left to right) Mayor William Gardner Hewes, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, and Jon Dasler.

Speaking at the Blake‘s commissioning ceremony were (left to right) Mayor William Gardner Hewes, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, and Jon Dasler, director of Marine Services, David Evans and Associates, Inc.  Photo by Tim Osborn, NOAA.

 

Glang pointed out that, for the past 15 years, NOAA has fulfilled its charting mission through a successful partnership with private sector surveying firms.

“David Evans and Associates, who owns and will operate the Blake, has been an important partner in that effort,” Glang said. “They conducted their first survey for Coast Survey in 1999.  In the last 15 years, they have completed 72 hydrographic surveys – nearly 1200 square nautical miles – in the coastal waters and bays of seven different states.”

“David Evans and Associates consistently produces outstanding hydrographic surveys for NOAA.  And, they are pioneers in applying new surveying technologies and methods.”

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, who did the honor of breaking a Champagne bottle across the Blake‘s bow, spoke of the vessel’s value to the nation.

“The survey vessel Blake is an example of the skilled workmanship of our Gulf Coast shipbuilding industry. This vessel will provide an important national seagoing capability to perform valuable research for our state and nation,” Cochran said. “I commend David Evans and Associates, Inc. for its hard work in constructing a world-class research vessel that can serve our nation for decades to come.”

The custom-built Blake is an aluminum catamaran. The vessel is designed to be a stable, efficient and cost-effective survey platform with wave-piercing bows, tier-3 diesel engines, twin 50-kilowatt generators, and a full suite of state-of-the-art survey instrumentation. Built by Geo Shipyard, Inc. in New Iberia, Louisiana, the new vessel will complement the firm’s national operations and expand DEA’s hydrographic and geophysical survey and marine science capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

The new vessel is named after the 19th century U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey steamer George S. Blake, an oceanographic and hydrographic vessel renowned for testing innovative technologies such as the Pillsbury current meter, which was the first deep-sea current meter, and the Sigbee deep-sea sounding machine. The federal Blake was commissioned in 1874, operated in the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. The Blake’s accomplishments are documented in Three Cruises of the BLAKE, by Alexander Agassiz. The vessel had numerous seafloor features named after her, including the Blake Abyssal Plain, Blake Plateau, Blake Canyon and Blake Ridge, all of which are off the southeastern coast of the U.S.

Noting the advanced technologies onboard the S/V Blake, that were not even imagined 140 years ago when the USC&GS steamer Blake did it’s innovative work, Glang congratulated the firm on its significant contribution to the survey mission.

“I look forward to the legacy of accomplishment and innovation that the S/V Blake begins today,” Glang said, “and to a sustained partnership between David Evans and Associates and NOAA.”

—-

For more, see this news report from WLOX TV.

Posted October 28, 2014 by NOAA Office of Coast Survey in Contractors

Tagged with

Survey helps ensure safe “parking” for deep-draft vessel in SF   Leave a comment

In preparation for the M/V TERN’s anticipated arrival this week in San Francisco Bay, the Coast Guard and Port of San Francisco asked Coast Survey for a bathymetric survey of the proposed anchorage site. TERN is a semi-submersible vessel with a 60-foot draft, and the proposed anchorage site has charted depths of 62 feet and 63 feet ‒ leaving no room for error, to say the least. The question was whether there are any spots shoaler than 62 feet.

This isn’t your everyday anchorage.

“This vessel floods ballast tanks and partially sinks, putting the main deck below water. Items can then be floated onto the ship, and then water is pumped out of the ballast tanks to bring the main deck back above water level,” explains Lt. Michael Davidson, chief of Coast Survey’s Navigation Response Branch. “TERN won’t actually be anchoring in the anchorage, but rather will be held in place with tugs while cranes are transferred. When she submerges during the operation, her submerged depth is 60 feet.”

Coast Survey assigned Navigation Response Team 6 to investigate the depths with its multibeam echo sounder, to ensure that the TERN will have the under keel clearance she needs. Last week, as requested by the Coast Guard, NRT 6 conducted an investigative survey around Whiskey 2, Anchorage 9. (Whiskey 2, depicted on the survey chart as W2, is a “bucket” that resides within Anchorage 9. A bucket is where they usually park a ship.) Of the many small, pocked features, the team found six that exhibit a height above bottom. Most notable of these features is a 60’ shoalest sounding near a 63’ charted depth – near the location where TERN was supposed to submerge.

After the Coast Guard received the team’s report of obstructions, they asked Coast Survey to investigate an additional area. They were looking for a spot that was at least 62′ deep, free of any features.

“In our area of survey near W1, there were no features that exhibited a height above bottom or showed any significant scour,” reports Ian Colvert, acting team lead of Coast Survey’s Navigation Response Team 6. “The area near W1 is a much more promising place to park the TERN, versus W2 which had a few features and depths not as deep.”

Coast Survey has a proud 200-year history of protecting ships from accidents. NRT6 gives us a very real example of how that mission continues today.

reduced 01_W1_ANCHORAGE_9_response

NOAA is open for business with navigation industry   Leave a comment

At the first NOAA Navigation Industry Day, held October 10 in conjunction with the Annapolis Boat Show, over two dozen of the world’s top maritime app and navigation system developers met with NOAA experts to learn more about the vast amounts of NOAA data that is available for free access and use.

IT charting specialist Pete Gomez explains how Coast Survey is developing a new chart tile service, to be unveiled this winter.

IT charting specialist Pete Gomez explains how Coast Survey is developing a new chart tile service, to be unveiled this winter.

The morning session consisted of program leaders who explained how NOAA data could add functionality to navigation systems and maritime apps. They demonstrated data sets and new formats that are not yet in widespread use, and solicited feedback on ways we can improve our products and services, particularly in distribution formats and protocols.

The afternoon was reserved for individual consultations with all of the experts.

While some (okay, a lot) of the discussions are technical, a quick rundown of the presentations gives a hint of some of the great potential for feeding more NOAA data into commercial navigation products…

THE AGENDA FOR NOAA NAVIGATION INDUSTRY DAY

NOAA CHARTS are available for free, in both raster (BSB) and vector (ENC) formats. Presenting the latest updates on metadata, XML chart catalog, and chart-based web services.

CHART TILE SERVICE: In response to the rapid change of web and mobile technology, NOAA will release its entire suite of nautical charts in pre-quilted tile sets for online use. They will also be available in regional geo-packages for use in disconnected applications. Like all NOAA charts, the tile sets will be updated with new information every week.

VALUE-ADDED CHART DISTRIBUTORS: With dynamic streams of NOAA data in a digital/mobile world, NOAA’s traditional re-distributor agreements need a second look. During this segment, NOAA asks for industry perspective on requirements for entering into navigation data delivery agreements.

HIGH RESOLUTION SEAFLOOR DATA: State-of-the-art surveys collect a wealth of detail that cannot be displayed on traditional charts. NOAA surveys produce high-resolution bathymetry models, in many cases at 1m resolution or finer. Many surveys also produce high-resolution backscatter maps and databases of seafloor features like rocks, wrecks, and obstructions. All of this data is freely available.

SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE: NOAA satellites measure sea surface temperature in large ocean areas. Learn how to acquire data that can be used for a variety of activities, i.e., locating the Gulf Stream for efficient passage planning, or finding likely fishing spots for the boating community.

TIDES AND CURRENTS: Many applications use NOAA’s tide and current predictions and observations at specific stations. Discussion on how to get the latest observations and the harmonic constituents for tides and currents predictions.

HYDRODYNAMIC MODELS: NOAA makes continuous models of tides and currents in all coastal areas, updating three-day predictions every six hours. The presentation explains how NOAA is developing new methods of distributing these models for public use.

NOAA WEATHER DATA (observations, models, radar, and forecasts) is as critical for safety on the water as on land. National Weather Service experts describe available data and how to access it.

COASTAL HF RADAR: NOAA and partners maintain a network of current-measuring radars along many parts of the U.S. coastline. A NOAA oceanographer explains more about the system and available data.

BUOY DATA: NOAA’s network of buoys along U.S. coasts measure wind speed, wave height, and more. NOAA experts describe the system and explain how to access the data.

DATA VISUALIZATION: NOAA partners with the University of New Hampshire to develop “next generation” tools for collecting, processing, and visualizing ocean data. Experts will demonstrate some of those tools. (UNH also welcomes partnerships with private industry to bring new technology into widespread use.)

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson celebrates survey success with maritime community   1 comment

by Ensign Diane Perry, onboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

From 2005 through today, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has been surveying Long Island Sound, one project area at a time. Some of the area was last surveyed between the late 1800s and 1939. For the 2014 field season, Thomas Jefferson was assigned her final Long Island Sound project, 89 square nautical miles of Eastern Long Island Sound, Fisher Island Sound, and Western Block Island Sound. When this project is complete, we will have resurveyed over 95% of Long Island Sound and all of Block Island Sound with modern survey technology that allows for a complete picture of the seafloor and highly accurate soundings.

This image depicts Thomas Jefferson's bathymetry from eastern Long Island Sound to Gardiner's Bay.

This image depicts Thomas Jefferson‘s bathymetry from eastern Long Island Sound to Gardiner’s Bay.

Data acquired by the Thomas Jefferson will update the region’s nautical charts and will serve other users within NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and a New York and Connecticut Long Island Sound Seafloor mapping initiative. The mapping initiative creates products for habitat mapping and geological interpretation, and supports state planning and management of this vital resource.

Bringing the hydrography of this area into modern times has been a huge task, and we appreciate being welcomed as a part of the area’s maritime community! When Thomas Jefferson was asked to participate in the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival in New London this summer, the crew was excited for the opportunity to showcase the results of nearly a decade of surveying effort.

On September 12, Thomas Jefferson docked at City Pier, dressed in semaphore flags to welcome crowds lining the pier eager for guided tours. As the sun set, Thomas Jefferson hosted judges and the announcer during the festival’s lighted boat parade. The ship continued to provide tours the next day, and was the highlight of the event for many visitors. More than 500 visitors toured from fantail to bridge, learning about the ship’s mission and hydrographic survey operations, life at sea, and maritime heritage of NOAA and the Office of Coast Survey.

As the festival ended, Thomas Jefferson’s crew cast off from City Pier to return to their Long Island Sound working grounds and continue survey operations. We are excited to return to the survey area and complete the 2014 Long Island Sound mapping project.

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson dressed in semaphore flags for Connecticut’s 2014 Maritime Heritage Festival. Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Abigail Winz.

LCDR Jim Crocker and Alex Ligon wrestle with wayward semaphore flags

Cmdr. James Crocker and hydrographic assistant survey technician Alex Ligon wrestle with wayward semaphore flags to keep NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson looking her best for Connecticut’s 2014 Maritime Heritage Festival. Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Abigail Winz.

Lt. Guberski talks to tour group

Lt. Megan Guberski greets a tour group about to board NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson during Connecticut’s 2014 Maritime Heritage Festival. American flags patriotically line New London train station in the background for the special event. Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Abigail Winz.

Photo of Guertin, Stone, Moulton, and Johnson

From left to right, “Teacher at Sea” Dr. Laura Guertin, hydrographic survey technician Allison Stone, Ensign Stephen Moulton, and general vessel assistant James Johnson dedicated their time to spreading the word about NOAA’s hydrographic mission.

A “soft” resilience strategy is part of successful hurricane response   Leave a comment

We hear about the infrastructure investments that often follow major disasters like hurricanes ‒ the “hard” port resilience strategies necessary in the wake of catastrophic human, environmental, and economic loss. But the sturdiest, most flood-proof building is just one part of a larger system of assets in coastal resilience. We don’t hear much about the “soft” resilience strategies ‒ those that build and maintain ties among the people responsible for responding to a hurricane, for instance ‒ that are important to a successful response. Those strategies are part of the social capital between communities and government, and among government agencies.

Coast Survey's Capt. Jon Swallow and Rear Adm. Gerd Glang review charting and survey requirements with Capt. Andrew Melick of of the Biscayne Bay Pilots Association.

Coast Survey’s Capt. Jon Swallow and Rear Adm. Gerd Glang meet with Capt. Andrew Melick of of the Biscayne Bay Pilots Association.

 

Coast Survey navigation managers invest in important soft resilience strategies during their ongoing preparations for hurricane season, building relationships with the private and public partners with whom they will work in a crisis. To quote a spokesperson for the New York Office of Emergency Management, “You don’t want to meet someone for the first time when you’re standing around in the rubble.” Or surveying a dangerous coastal debris field, as the case may be.

Navigation manager Tim Osborn presents info to U.S. Coast Guard New Orleans Sector and members of the Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee.  Tim works with these groups during hurricane and incident response events.

Navigation manager Tim Osborn presents info to U.S. Coast Guard New Orleans Sector and members of the Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee. Tim works with these groups during hurricane and incident response events.

 

Coast Survey navigation managers and navigation response teams have the opportunity to build those relationships when they meet with emergency responders from NOAA and other agencies throughout the year for planning, drills, and tabletop exercises. Navigation managers also sit on U.S. Coast Guard Marine Transportation System Recovery Units, which comprise the experts in maritime mobility, incident response, and port operations who work with stakeholders to reopen ports following a natural or manmade disruption. The units provide a single contact and a clear, efficient pipeline for relaying information to and from Coast Guard and NOAA headquarters to ensure that resources are available at the right place at the right time.

NY/NJ MTSRU 2012

Lt. Brent Pounds (back to the camera) was NOAA’s representative on the New York / New Jersey Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit responding to Sandy in 2012.

 

The “right time” is well before a storm hits its coastal target. After a damaging storm, ports may restrict ship travel or shut down completely ‒ so deploying survey ships, navigation response teams, and navigation managers before the storm arrives is critical. For example, four days out, as it becomes more obvious where a storm will hit, the Marine Transportation System Recovery Units assess the likely severity of damage in the forecasted areas. Two to three days out, Coast Survey teams are on the move to pre-position before the storm’s arrival. Because they have been pre-positioned, navigation managers can work directly with the Coast Guard, pilots, and port officials to create a survey plan for detecting underwater debris in order to rapidly “clear” priority areas for the resumption of shipping.

Tensions are high after a hurricane, and resources may be scarce. When people from several agencies are trying their best to get operations up and running, under difficult circumstances, pre-established individual relationships can help to ease the strain and strengthen team bonds. Of course, nothing beats team building like a successful response to an actual storm. (See this excellent report on port recovery in the aftermath to Sandy in 2012.) The lessons learned in one response can be transferable to future responses. As an added benefit, the respect and trust among cooperating agencies, at all levels of government, gives life to the motto of the United States. E pluribus unum: out of many, one.

NOAA helps Port Fourchon determine safe anchorage areas   Leave a comment

Port officials around the country know they can rely on the expert advice of Coast Survey’s navigation managers, cartographic experts, and hydrographers as the ports plan the essential improvements necessary for a thriving maritime economy. One example of Coast Survey assistance is in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, where port officials have determined that the volume and density of vessels have reached a level that requires one or more offshore anchorage areas. Sending vessels to a designated anchorage reduces the population in port and provides a safe area for vessels to power down their engines (rather than hold in place offshore in dynamic positioning mode), which would improve both safety and efficiency in the area known as the “Gulf’s Energy Connection.”

Using nautical charts of the areas, Coast Survey provided a range of possible sites that helped port officials narrow their anchorage options. After navigation manager Tim Osborn worked with the officials, and with additional requirements in hand, Coast Survey cartographic expert Steve Soherr provided a digital graphic showing likely areas, with information that guards against pipeline and platform interference with safe anchorage.

As additional safeguards, hydrographic surveys will likely be needed to confirm that the seafloor of the recommended areas are free of hazards and do not have uncharted pipelines. Coast Survey will work with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement as needed.

The port will bring its recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, who has the authority to designate the anchorages.

Port Fourchon potential anchorage areas

Cartographic adviser Steve Soherr, with Coast Survey’s Navigation Services Division, produced this graphic showing the lease blocks, pipelines, and platforms offshore of Fourchon and Belle Pass. Port officials and others will use the image to examine areas offshore that are both free of pipeline hazards and within the depth range required to accommodate offshore service vessels and the other fleets seen at Fourchon.

Posted September 29, 2014 by NOAA Office of Coast Survey in Commerce

Tagged with , ,

Lt. Smith shows us the beauty of Gambell Alaska   2 comments

Gambell panorama

Photo by Lt. Timothy Smith

This summer, the Bering Sea Alliance hosted a private-public summit in Gambell, Alaska, to discuss Arctic resource development and infrastructure. (See page 10 in this edition of the Nome Nugget for a good summary of the meeting.) Lt. Tim Smith, NOAA Coast Survey’s regional manager for Alaska, updated the participants on the status of Arctic nautical charts and described NOAA’s Arctic Nautical Charting Plan. He also outlined the preliminary 2015 survey plans to acquire hydrographic data around Point Hope, Point Barrow, Port Clarence, and Kotzebue Sound, as NOAA strives to ensure the navigational safety of the increasing ship traffic through Arctic waters.

In addition to his role as navigation manager and NOAA Corps officer, Lt. Smith is one of NOAA’s best photographers. His photos of the area around Gambell are better than words in conveying the beauty of this remote area of Alaska.

Gambell AK 2 - Tim Smith - wEmblem

Photo by Lt. Timothy Smith

With the photo below, Tim reminds us that black and white photos can sometimes reveal more than full color.

Gambell AK - Tim Smith wEmblem

Photo by Lt. Timothy Smith

Posted September 25, 2014 by NOAA Office of Coast Survey in Scenery

Tagged with

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,232 other followers