Archive for October 2012

Post-SANDY navigation response in full swing   1 comment

NOAA’s navigation response teams and other survey assets are in the water (or soon will be) as they respond to SANDY’s destruction, checking for underwater debris and shoaling that may pose a risk to navigation. Tasked by the U.S. Coast Guard Captains of the Port, NOAA vessels can use multibeam echo sounders or side scan sonar, as conditions warrant, to search for the answers that speed resumption of shipping and other vessel movements.

As of noon today:

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson started out this morning for New York Harbor, where they will survey for obstructions in waterways, starting at daybreak tomorrow. Visual reconnaissance indicates debris and missing containers may pose a danger to shipping.

Navigation Response Team 5 mobilized from Connecticut and got underway in New York at first light this morning, surveying Anchorage Channel. Their next priorities are the route up to the Manhattan cruise ship terminal, Sandy Hook Channel, and then the Global Marine Terminal.

NOAA Ship Ferdinand Hassler spent yesterday and today surveying deep draft ship channels in Chesapeake Channel and Thimble Shoal Channel, as 78 large vessels, including portions of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, waited to transit through the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.

NOAA R/V Bay Hydro II is surveying in the Hampton Roads area yesterday and today, checking channels needed by coal shipments and aircraft carriers at Norfolk.

Navigation Response Team 2 is on its way from their regularly scheduled surveying off Florida’s coast, headed to help out in NY/NJ. Additionally, an operations manager is transporting mobile survey equipment to New York, as an additional survey resource on a vessel of opportunity.

NOAA R/V Potawaugh mobilized this morning to Lewes, Del., to survey for shoaling that may pose a risk to safe navigation for the Cape May – Lewes Ferry and other vessels. They started surveying, using their multibeam echo sounder, at 1 pm today.

Follow NOAA Office of Coast Survey on Twitter @nauticalcharts, for updates.  

Rapid Maritime Response 31Oct2012 - SANDY

NOAA Ship Rainier completes year’s surveys along Alaskan archipelago, heads home to Newport   2 comments

NOAA Ship Rainier is due to arrive at its homeport in Newport, Ore., on November 1, completing the ship’s 2012 hydrographic survey season. (Watch Rainier’s progress on NOAA’s Ship Tracker.) This survey season, Rainier departed Newport on May 17 and spent her summer mapping 604 square nautical miles of the ocean floor in Alaska, stretching from Kodiak to the Shumagin Islands, along the Alaskan archipelago.

Rainier has a long 1,769 nautical mile trip back to homeport in Newport, Oregon.

“We completed our last survey on October 24, and began the long 1,769  nautical mile trip back to Oregon,” said Rainier’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Richard Brennan. “The crew put a lot of great effort into their work, some of it under challenging weather conditions.”

Rainier and her four smaller survey vessels use multibeam echo-sounders to measure the depth of the ocean along her path, collecting millions of measurements. More than half of the area surveyed by Rainier this summer had never been surveyed before, leaving large sections of nautical charts void of ocean depth measurements. Commercial shippers, passenger vessels, and fishing fleets need updated charts, which NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey will produce with the multibeam’s precise and accurate measurements.

“Simply put, we have better maps of the moon than of our oceans,” said Rear Adm. Gerd Glang, director of Coast Survey. “Much of our knowledge of U.S. coastal seafloors dates from eras when ocean commerce was more limited, especially in Alaska.”

“At a time when Alaskan waterways are facing unprecedented demands from maritime commerce, Rainier is acquiring the data for navigational charts that are the foundation of the marine transportation system,” Glang explained.

The 231-foot Rainier, one of the most modern and productive hydrographic survey platforms of its type in the world, is named for Mount Rainier, a massive volcanic cone rising 14,410 feet above sea level in Washington. At the time the ship was commissioned, in 1968, vessels of this class were named for geological features. Rainier underwent a major repair period from Nov. 2009 to Jan. 2011, when new systems and equipment were installed.

The ship’s sophisticated seafloor mapping systems allow researchers to acquire hydrographic data that is used to update the nation’s nautical charts. Rainier carries four survey launches that survey shallow, near-shore waters.

Rainier’s scientists, survey technicians, NOAA Corps officers, and crew bring a wide range of navigational and hydrographical expertise to the mission. Rainier has a total complement of 52 people: 12 NOAA Corps commissioned officers, 11 engineers, 14 deck/boatswains, 9 hydrographic survey technicians (in addition to the officers, who are all hydrographers), four stewards, and two electronic technicians.

The ship is part of NOAA’s fleet of research and survey ships operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

One of Rainier’s projects for 2012 was four surveys in the Shumagin Islands, constituting 2083.2 linear nautical miles of survey lines, and 112.85 square nautical miles of seafloor – most which were never surveyed before.

Posted October 30, 2012 by NOAA Office of Coast Survey in Hydrographic surveys, Rainier

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NOAA Ship Hassler starts post-SANDY survey of deep draft routes to Hampton Roads and Baltimore   1 comment

NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler departed from NOAA’s Marine Operation Center in Norfolk this morning, to start post-SANDY surveys of critical deep water channels.

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.

Lt. Cmdr. Ben Evans, Hassler’s commanding officer, got the ship underway today (Tuesday), and will return Wednesday evening. The Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Hampton Roads requested that the ship survey critical portions of Thimble Shoal Channel and Chesapeake Channel, the deep draft routes to the ports of Hampton Roads and Baltimore.

“Surveying the deepest draft channels will allow the Coast Guard to decide when to re-open the port to unrestricted traffic without unnecessary delay,” Evans explained. “The ports of the Chesapeake Bay are critical to the U.S. economy and national security, so we need to make this effort as soon as the ship is ready to sail.”

The need for hydrographic surveying is critical. There are 78 large vessels, including portions of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, waiting to transit through the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.

The Hassler was also a pivotal survey asset last year, as Hampton Roads resumed operations after Hurricane Irene. At that time, Hassler was one of the three NOAA survey vessels used to clear the port from dangers caused by underwater debris or shoaling. Their work enabled a rapid resumption of shipping and port operations in 2011.

“Delays in shipping, even minor ones, cost the economy millions each year,” explained Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “After Hurricane Irene last year, NOAA’s rapid maritime response paid dividends in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, where an average of $5 million worth of cargo is shipped in or out, every hour. This year, rapid response is just as critical.”

The Norfolk Custom District is the country’s 9th largest in terms of the value of total imports and exports moving through the port, with nearly $55 billion in total trade in 2011.

*** Learn more about how NOAA’s National Ocean Service responds to hurricanes.

NOAA deploys personnel and survey assets to speed resumption of shipping after Sandy – Update 29 Oct   1 comment

Coast Guard and Coast Survey at NY-NJ

USCG Lt. Cmdr. Anne Morrisey, chief of Waterways Management Division for Sector New York, and NOAA Coast Survey navigation manager Kyle Ward discuss potential navigation response scenarios, at Sector NY Coast Guard Maritime Transportation System Recovery Unit.

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).

NOAA’s navigation response teams provide essential information when ports need to quickly but safely re-open in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, helping to limit the nation’s exposure to significant economic losses and adverse effects on national security caused by prolonged disruptions to the maritime transportation system.

As of noon today, the graph below depicts the position of navigation response teams, survey vessels, and equipment available to search for underwater dangers to navigation and to detect dangerous shoaling that may pose an unacceptable risk to vessels.

NOAA Coast Survey Response Assets and Locations 29Oct2012

NOAA pre-positions survey assets for SANDY maritime response   Leave a comment

BHII in Hampton Roads 2011

Bay Hydro II surveyed in Hampton Roads following Hurricane IRENE last year, speeding the resumption of port operations.

As Hurricane SANDY heads north along the Atlantic coast, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is deep into preparations for maritime rapid response. Two objectives stand out: move navigation response personnel and assets into position to move quickly once SANDY moves out; and batten down survey vessels, to protect them from storm damage.

Coast Survey regularly responds to requests for quick navigation surveys after storms and other damaging events, pulling vessels from their normal survey schedules and deploying them to ports that need hydrographic surveys before they can resume full-fledged shipping.

As of this morning, this is the position of navigation response teams, survey vessels, and equipment available to search for underwater dangers to navigation and to detect shifting seafloor bottoms. Coast Survey’s Navigation Services Division is putting out orders now to move some of these assets, as well as pre-positioning navigation managers.

The navigation response teams (NRTs), mobile integrated survey teams (MIST) that use vessels of opportunity, autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), and Bay Hydro II are all Coast Survey response assets. Additionally, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is surveying in Long Island Sound and will be deployed if she is needed. (Update 10/28: Bay Hydro II moved from Solomons to Norfolk.)

SANDY rapid response assets

NOAA and American Pilots’ Association sign Memorandum of Agreement to advance safe navigation   Leave a comment

Capt. Michael Watson and Dr. Kathryn Sullivan with the new memorandum of agreement

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation & Prediction, signed an agreement today that recognizes the longstanding working relationship between marine pilots and NOAA’s navigational services. Coast Survey has a long-term working relationship with the American Pilots’ Association, whose members include virtually all of the 1,200 state-licensed marine pilots working in the 24 coastal states and the Great Lakes. This agreement updates an earlier collaborative agreement between APA and NOAA.

Dr. Sullivan and Capt. Michael Watson, APA president, signed the MOA this morning, during the APA annual meeting.

The MOA lays out specific cooperative activities to promote safe navigation. Among a wide range of provisions, it encourages the 57 APA-member pilot groups to provide information to update NOAA’s nautical charts and the U.S. Coast Pilot. The MOA will also facilitate timely investigations of apparent discrepancies between actual and charted features, which could pose dangers to navigation or adversely affect shipping efficiencies.

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson mapping Long Island Sound seafloor: contributing to multi-level collaboration   Leave a comment

How many geospatial products can be developed by one seafloor mapping project? As a phased-in project for Long Island Sound shows, a strong collaboration among diverse groups of researchers and technology developers can integrate temporal and geospatial data sources to produce dozens of products. In addition to updating NOAA’s nautical charts, ongoing collaborations in Long Island Sound will create products that depict physical, geological, ecological, geomorphological, and biological conditions and processes – all to balance the development of new ocean uses while protecting and restoring essential habitats.

In 2011, the Long Island Sound Program (representing a partnership between the State of Connecticut, State of New York, Connecticut and New York Sea Grant, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) requested assistance from NOAA. They asked for help in providing management and technical expertise; acquiring data; and developing products. They required key temporal and spatial information about seafloor conditions in the Sound. They needed bathymetry and backscatter, and biological and physical observational and sampling data, to produce all the products needed by governments, industry, academia, and the public.

Coast Survey already had plans for NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to survey in Long Island Sound, to acquire new bathymetry for chart updates. With some adjustments to survey areas and project parameters, a mutually beneficial partnership was formed for long-term seafloor mapping of Long Island Sound habitats over the next several years, as an integrated ocean and coastal mapping project.

This summer, Thomas Jefferson conducted hydrographic surveys in the mid-Sound area of Stratford Shoal and vicinity, extending from New York on the north shore of Long Island to the Connecticut shoreline.

“Ocean floors are amazingly dynamic, and we have to chart those changes to provide precise and accurate navigational data for today’s maritime economy,” explained Cmdr. Lawrence Krepp, commanding officer of the Thomas Jefferson and the ship’s chief scientist. “Our data is used to update NOAA’s nautical charts, but the hydrographic information can also be used to support a number of non-navigation uses, ranging from benefits to fisheries management to support of regional ocean planning efforts like this.”

Thomas Jefferson DTM for LIS

This digital terrain model, showing bathymetry in Long Island Sound, was created from Thomas Jefferson depth soundings.

This image is a digital terrain model that indicates the water depths in surveyed areas. In its final form, it will be geo-referenced to latitude and longitude. To produce this DTM, a NOAA Corps hydrographer, Lt.j.g. (sel) Anthony Klemm loaded Thomas Jefferson’s billions of depth soundings into an algorithum, powered by CARIS’s CSAR technology. By laying out a grid, and then using CUBE – combined uncertainty bathymetry estimator – Klemm is able to visually depict higher resolution depth measurements in shallow water, where the shapes on the seafloor may be navigationally significant, with resolution gradually decreasing as the depth increases.

Digital terrain models are useful for many environmental management activities. In this collaboration, seafloor topography products, like this DTM, will be the foundation for building products that address benthic habitats and other environmental conditions.

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