With the approach of Tropical Storm Isaac, headed toward the state of Florida, Coast Survey navigation managers and navigation response teams have moved into Rapid Maritime Response preparations. Coast Survey is often called upon to speed the resumption of ocean shipping — slowed or shut down by hurricane damage — by searching for submerged debris or other dangers to navigation in port areas or shipping lanes. After navigation response teams survey the areas, ports can resume operations safely and efficiently.
Our navigation managers work with port representatives, and state and federal officials in the area, to coordinate their requests for NOAA data and services, and our manager for Florida is already fielding requests from port officials and the U.S. Coast Guard in Florida.
Coast Survey deploys six navigation response teams, at all times, to conduct long-term hydrographic projects in critical maritime areas. While surveying, the teams remain on alert to respond to emergencies anywhere on the nation’s coasts. The teams are three-person crews who can transport the hydrographic equipment and 28’ survey boats to coastal locations where submerged debris or shoaling would cause a danger to navigation.
Two teams, currently surveying in Florida (NRT1 and NRT2), are now going through hurricane response checklists and ensuring fuel supplies. They are monitoring the storm and will put the equipment into a safe location if conditions require, so they are ready to roll when called. Two other teams (NRT4 surveying in Texas and NRT5 in Massachusetts) are continuing on their current survey assignments while remaining on call for emergency deployment, depending on where Isaac is headed.
The Coast Survey MIST — a mobile integrated survey team, equipped with side scan sonar equipment and an autonomous underwater vehicle — is ready to deploy from Coast Survey headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Additionally, a Twin Otter airplane is equipped and ready to conduct remote sensing and aerial photography.