The crew of the NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler (S-250) hosted a change of command on November 5, while moored at its homeport in New Castle, New Hampshire.
In front of the crew and guests – including Rear Adm. Gerd Glang, director of the Office of Coast Survey, and Capt. Anne Lynch, commanding officer of the Atlantic Marine Operations Center – Lt. Cmdr. Briana Welton accepted command of Hassler, replacing Cmdr. Marc Moser.
Welton is the new survey ship’s third commanding officer.
Lt. Cmdr. Briana Welton accepts command of NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler as Cmdr. Marc Moser (right) looks on. Lt. Jon Andvick, Hassler‘s operations officer, observes from the left.
Glang congratulated Welton on her new responsibilities. “You have proven yourself capable and successful in your previous assignments, and we have great expectations you will continue to succeed at your new command-at-sea,” he said.
A commanding officer of a NOAA survey ship is also the ship’s hydrographer, chief scientist, and senior program representative. This means that, in addition to being responsible for the safe management of the vessel, the ship’s CO is also solely and ultimately responsible for the completion of the science mission: the hydrographic surveys that are delivered to Coast Survey.
The event marked the end of a successful tour for Moser, who served as Hassler’s second commanding officer, beginning in December 2013. Glang commended Moser for his service as “a resilient, resourceful, and extremely competent leader.”
During Moser’s tenure, Hassler achieved significant reductions in survey processing time, which cut an average of 55 days from the time it takes to get newly acquired data on to nautical charts.
Highlighting the importance of working to minimize conflicts with commercial fishing operations during survey projects, Glang thanked Moser for coordinating with the local fishing communities in the Gulf of Maine and adapting survey schedules to try to avoid impacts on fishing operations. Moser also demonstrated his “understanding and commitment to the customs and traditions of a seagoing service, when Hassler intercepted a derelict sailing vessel that had been drifting for three days in the New York Bight,” Glang pointed out. The crew facilitated the vessel’s rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Moser succeeded Cmdr. Ben Evans, who brought Hassler through its delivery and initial shakedown period and into operations – including responses to hurricanes Irene and Sandy. In the Sandy response, Hassler searched for dangers to navigation and sped the resumption of shipping and naval traffic through deep draft routes to the ports of Hampton Roads and Baltimore.
Lt. Cmdr. Briana Welton
Welton, who has served as Hassler‘s executive officer since May 2014, congratulated Moser for his successful command, and then went on to “thank everyone here – and those who couldn’t be here, too – who have supported this ship through all the trials and tribulations of transforming a newly constructed ship of unique design to a safe and effective operational ocean mapping vessel.”
Welton received her commission in 2003, and is one of a growing number of females in the NOAA Corps, one of the nation’s seven uniformed services. Of the total 320 officers, 91 are women. NOAA’s female percentage of 28.4 compares favorably to 14.5 percent of the active-duty military force, and 10.5 percent of the U.S. Coast Guard total force of active-duty and reserve personnel. (See CNN, By the numbers: Women in the U.S. military, January 24, 2013)
NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler is a small waterplane area twin hull (SWATH) vessel designed for improved stability. Hassler’s officers, technicians, and scientists acquire and process the hydrographic data that NOAA cartographers use to create and update the nation’s nautical charts with ever-increasing data richness and precision.
The ship was named for Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, a visionary scientist who planned the survey of the coast after President Jefferson signed enacting legislation in 1807. Hassler became the first superintendent of Coast Survey, serving until his death in 1843.
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