On July 21, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker attended the change-of-command ceremony for NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler, one of NOAA’s hydrographic survey vessels that collect data for creating the nation’s nautical charts.
At the ceremony, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Jaskoski assumed command from Lt. Cmdr. Briana Welton, who served as Hassler’s third commanding officer and will become the chief of Coast Survey’s Atlantic Hydrographic Branch. Jaskoski previously served as executive officer for NOAA Ship Fairweather.
Sec. Pritzker’s remarks highlighted Hassler’s contributions since its commissioning just over four years ago, including its completion of 46 hydrographic surveys and the ship’s contribution to re-opening East Coast sea traffic after Hurricane Sandy. She also reminded the officers and crew of the legacy they honor in their contributions to our nation’s coastal intelligence.
“On this day in 1807, President Thomas Jefferson approved the plan of a mathematics professor at West Point to conduct a survey of our new nation’s coastlines. That professor was Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler. He would go on to become the first superintendent of the Coast Survey – a position he held until the day he died.
“His commitment to our coasts continues today through your service. Whether it is assessing damage after a hurricane or discovering new insights submerged deeply along our coastlines, our country is better off thanks to the commitment of the men and women who serve on this remarkable ship.
“Ferdinand Hassler’s legacy of exploration and scientific discovery will continue on under the capable leadership of Lieutenant Commander Jaskoski, just as it has under Lieutenant Commander Welton. To all of you, the men and women who chart the uncharted while protecting lives, property, and the environment: thank you for your service.”
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker with Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Jaskoski onboard NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler
Captain Eric Berkowitz, chief of Coast Survey’s Hydrographic Surveys Division, also offered appreciation for the leadership provided by Secretary Pritzker, and for the dedication of Hassler’s officers and crew. We share his comments here:
Thank you, Lt. Cmdr. Kuzirian. Good afternoon to you all. On behalf of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, and our director, Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, I thank you for the warm welcome extended to the officers and crew of NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler.
I’d especially like to thank Secretary Pritzker for her strong leadership at the Department of Commerce. Secretary Pritzker developed the “Open for Business Agenda,” a bold strategic plan and policy blueprint that focuses on expanding trade and investment. It seeks to unleash more government data for economic benefit – something that NOAA and our survey ships do for all of the maritime industry. We appreciate your vision and backing of NOAA’s survey and charting mission.
Today I want to offer some remarks on why this ship is so important to the goals of the Department of Commerce, and how Hassler’s personnel meet these goals by carrying on the legacy of the ship’s scientific namesake, Ferdinand R. Hassler.
As the first superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, in the 19th century, Ferdinand Hassler did more than survey the coast. He was a scientific pioneer who elevated the status of science in government and American society. He developed a thriving organization of mathematicians, geodesists, topographers, hydrographers, instrument-makers, engravers, and printers who worked in concert to create our nation’s nautical charts. As the leader of the federal government’s first scientific agency, he set the government’s foundation for acquiring and using data.
In approaching his mission, the survey of the coast, Hassler imbued the U.S. Coast Survey with unswerving devotion to accuracy, precision, and scientific integrity. These values continue to define NOAA’s navigation services to this day.
NOAA Ship Hassler’s mission is no less important than her namesake’s mission was in 1807. Thomas Jefferson asked for the survey of the coast to ensure the safety of maritime commerce. We ask the same of Hassler today.
This vessel is one of four dedicated NOAA survey ships that acquire the data to produce the nautical charts that are the foundation of our nation’s marine transportation system. Every ship has its own character, and every commander has their own challenges, but the commanders of NOAA’s hydrographic survey ships have astoundingly high bars to reach in what we demand of them.
I know that sometimes it seems the bar keeps getting raised higher, just out of reach. It’s not your imagination. Hassler’s crew and officers have faced some difficult hurdles in bringing this relatively new ship into its full potential. During these last couple of years, first as the executive officer and now as the commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Welton’s leadership has been truly noteworthy.
The writer William Arthur Ward once said: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” You have constantly adjusted the sails.
It has also been said that what you do has far greater impact than what you say. Lt. Cmdr. Welton, you have, as the commanding officer, successfully dealt with multiple drydock and dockside repair periods over the course of your command. As we all know, a ship and her crew are meant to be at sea. Being alongside or in extended repair periods can be some of the most challenging times for any command. You did not complain; instead, you remained focused on the long-term health of the ship and her crew to set her up for future success and we thank you for this.
We have been lucky to have Lt. Cmdr. Briana Welton as the commanding officer of Hassler. We are lucky again with Lt. Cmdr. Matt Jaskoski as the new CO. We welcome Lt. Cmdr. Welton as she moves to her new position as the chief of Coast Survey’s Atlantic Hydrographic Branch, and we give our promise of support to Lt. Cmdr. Jaskoski as he assumes command of Hassler. You both have some challenging times ahead, as you will throughout your careers.
But, since it is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go, we have great confidence that we will all reach the destinations charted by your leadership.
Lt. Cmdr. Briana Welton and Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Jaskoski at the change of command ceremony for NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler
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