Even before Sandy hit the New Jersey shore, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey was mobilizing to respond to the emergency, preparing vessels, personnel, and equipment to conduct hydrographic surveys of hard-hit areas, searching for the underwater debris and shoaling that can paralyze shipping at the nation’s ports.
Restoring fuel flow into the New York area has been a top priority — but barge deliveries have been hampered by water borne obstructions that forced a partial closure of the port. NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson mobilized through the night to New York Harbor (see NOAA Chart 12327), where they began surveying at 3:12 this morning, looking for the sunken containers, debris, and shoaling that pose dangers to ships and lives. In the darkness, using high tech side scan sonar equipment, Thomas Jefferson conducted the hydrographic survey of the designated areas on the Hudson River. With the information provided by the Thomas Jefferson’s survey, combined with earlier work conducted by Coast Survey’s Navigation Response Team 5, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port was able to open the port to fuel barge traffic this morning.
Tank barges and tank ships carries tens of millions of tons of petroleum products through the Port of New York and New Jersey. According to a report by the American Waterways Operators, the barges carry the product throughout the state, from Buffalo to Long Island. “Specific petroleum products transported by barge include gasoline, kerosene, asphalt, lube oil and greases, distillate fuel, and residual fuel. These and other products are used by both consumers and industry to keep New York’s economy moving and growing.”
Thomas Jefferson has now moved to the Anchorage Channel, and two of her smaller vessels – also equipped with high-tech survey equipment – started surveying at daybreak; one conducting a reconnaissance survey in the Buttermilk Channel, to locate sunken containers; and the other checking for shoaling in Sandy Hook Channel.
Coast Survey’s Navigation Response Team 5 got in a full day of surveying yesterday, on the Anchorage Channel. They processed their data overnight, for early delivery to the Captain of the Port, and have started their second day of surveying. Their work will help open the deep draft channel.
Navigation Response Team 2, mobilized from Florida, arrived at the New York Coast Guard station last night, and started their first surveying at daybreak this morning. They will be searching for dangers to navigation between Global Marine Terminal and Port Newark.