In a step towards greater efficiency in NOAA’s hydrographic surveying, experts onboard the NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler just wrapped up the first extended testing of Coast Survey’s new bathymetric mapping autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). From Sept 3 to 13, the vehicle completed ten missions lasting up to 16 hours during day and night, while the ship continued with its assigned hydrographic surveys in the approaches to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
This AUV is equipped with high resolution seabed mapping equipment similar to the ship’s, including a high accuracy positioning system and multibeam echosounder capable of producing seamless maps of the seafloor.
During this cruise, Coast Survey and Hassler personnel developed safe deployment and recovery procedures for the 675-pound, 13-foot vehicle, and they standardized mission programming and monitoring protocols to integrate the AUV with the shipboard survey operations. Future tests will refine these techniques, and focus on integrating the AUV’s seabed mapping data into the ship’s data processing workflow.
Coast Survey’s AUV team lead Rob Downs and Lt. Adam Reed prepare to initiate the AUV mission. Chief boatswain Brad Delinski, hydro senior survey technician David Moehl, and able-bodied seaman Bruce Engert guide the AUV to the launch position, while field operations officer Lt. Madeleine Adler directs the operation. Photo credit: Lt. Olivia Hauser
NOAA’s newest survey ship, the Ferdinand R. Hassler, arrived at her new homeport of New Castle, New Hampshire, earlier this month, and began her first New Hampshire survey project today. Hassler was commissioned in Norfolk, Va., in June 2012. She has been undergoing sea trials, training, and certification, and responded to Hampton Roads’ request for rapid survey assistance after Hurricane Sandy last year.
NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler comes into her new homeport in New Castle, New Hampshire
Hassler will operate mainly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Caribbean Sea and Great Lakes, acquiring data to update NOAA’s nautical charts. Her mission, however, is not limited to collecting bathymetry, explains retired NOAA Capt. Andy Armstrong, co-director of the Joint Hydrographic Center/Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. Armstrong points out that “Hassler’s arrival is the impetus for improving the already dynamic synergies between NOAA’s hydrographic program and CCOM’s research.”
Local government officials have provided a warm welcome to Hassler’s crew. Noting “the enthusiastic welcome from the townspeople and local businesses,” Hassler commanding officer Lt. Cmdr. Ben Evans predicts a great future for a cooperative working partnership between the ship, the town, and the university.
The first cooperative project is coming up, during the survey project that starts today. While charting the approaches to New Hampshire, Hassler will be a testing platform for a new autonomous underwater vehicle currently being analyzed by the Office of Coast Survey and UNH researchers.
The Ferdinand R. Hassler is a state-of-the-art coastal mapping vessel. The 124-foot ship will conduct basic hydrographic surveys of the sea floor using side scan and multibeam sonar technologies. The ship is also equipped to deploy buoys and unmanned submersibles and conduct general oceanographic research. Ferdinand R. Hassler’s twin-hull design is particularly suited to NOAA’s mission to map the ocean floor, as it is more stable than a single-hull vessel.
For your reading and viewing pleasure, here are some of the news reports about Ferdinand R. Hassler’s arrival in New Hampshire…
Portsmouth Herald: NOAA vessel to map the ocean floor along East Coast
Foster’s Daily Democrat: They came to see the ocean floor: ship to update nautical maps of area seabed
WMUR Ch 9: Ship has mission to map ocean floor
AP (via Boston Globe): NH becomes home port of newest NOAA mapping vessel