By Lt.j.g. Eric Younkin
For four weeks in February, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey offers formal hydrographic training to newly hired survey technicians and physical scientists, using the beautiful campus at the United States Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown, Virginia. This year, dozens of NOAA employees and others took the extensive training, covering everything from acoustics and statistics to the processing of hydrographic survey data within the CARIS software package.
Two dozen people attended in person. They came from a wide range of duty assignments: NOAA ships Rainier, Fairweather, Thomas Jefferson, Pisces, and Oscar Dyson; Coast Survey’s R/V Bay Hydro II, Navigation Response Team 1, and the Atlantic Hydrographic Branch; NOAA’s National Geospatial Data Center; and the Washington State Energy Office. In addition, we had “virtual” attendance from the NOAA ships as well as from the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, the Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping Center, Washington State Energy Office, and United States Coast Guard District 17.
During the last two weeks, we experienced a severe winter storm. The training facility and the surrounding roads and schools closed – but we still held classes, even though some of the commuting students had to join the ranks of the remote attendees.
First on the agenda, attendees received on-the-job training on board R/V Bay Hydro II, thanks to the officer-in-charge, Lt.j.g. Bart Buesseler, and physical scientist technician Rob Mowery. Students also set up a horizontal control base station, performed leveling runs, simulated shoreline feature acquisition and calibrated an Applanix POS MV system. Capt. Shep Smith, Lt. Cmdr. Olivia Hauser, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Gonsalves, physical scientist Glen Rice, and others offered their expertise on a variety of topics, including statistics and the organizational structure of Coast Survey.
Students learned about field operations and sonar theory, with classes offered by Lt. Megan Guberski from the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, physical scientist Matt Wilson from Coast Survey’s Atlantic Hydrographic Branch, and physical scientist Mashkoor Malik from Coast Survey’s Hydrographic Systems and Technology Programs. Lt.j.g. Matthew Forrest from NOAA Ship Rainier, and Keith Brkich and David Wolcott from NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services covered vertical control and tidal theory.
To cap off the training, Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of Coast Survey, talked about the future of hydrography and – importantly – awarded training completion certificates to the students.