NOAA Prepares for 2012 Hydro Survey Season

2012 hydro surveys support needs of shipping, mining, and passenger cruise line industries

Responding to requests of the maritime industry and the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Survey is prioritizing requests for the 2012 hydrographic survey season. The mission is to acquire hydrographic data and update navigational charts for areas with high levels of commercial traffic and passenger cruise ships, and in areas important to the development of strategic resources.


The true Arctic lies ahead for the Office of Coast Survey hydrography and charting in 2012. This year, Coast Survey will venture the furthest north it has gone in fifty years, with NOAA Ship Fairweather planning to survey the sparsely and inadequately measured depths of the approaches to Red Dog Mine (the world’s largest producer of zinc concentrate) in the Chukchi Sea.


The importance of ensuring the accuracy of charts used by passenger cruise lines is also front and center, especially following the Costa Concordia tragedy in Italy. Fairweather is slated to survey Alaskan coastline transited by a major cruise line, and both the Fairweather and Rainier will likely survey Alaska ferry routes as well as other commercial transit areas in the Gulf of Alaska.


Rainier is also tentatively scheduled to survey critical navigation areas around Washington state.


Thomas Jefferson picks up where it left off in 2011, returning to areas experiencing high levels of commercial shipping in Long Island and Block Sounds, off the coast of New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.


This year, NOAA is planning to add a new ocean and coastal survey vessel, the Ferdinand Hassler, to its current lineup of survey ships. Hassler is tentatively scheduled to survey approaches to the Chesapeake Bay.


Coast Survey will finalize the 2012 survey plans in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can see NOAA’s hydrographic survey priorities here.


Is a Navigation Response Team coming to your area?

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has been serving the nation’s mariners since the early 1800s. Coast Survey is perhaps best known as the nation’s chartmaker. To update those charts, three NOAA ships with launches (with another ship being commissioned this summer) regularly survey coastal areas, acquiring bathymetric data for chart updates and a variety of other uses.


But there’s more. In addition to these highly visible ships, two- and three-person navigation response teams are working somewhat below the radar, constantly surveying port areas and sea lanes. Their small but powerful technology gives them the flexibility to move quickly to meet the navigational needs of mariners.


Coast Survey is currently firming up its 2012 and 2013 navigation response team survey schedule, prioritizing critical chart updates among the nation’s 175 major ports. Their task, day in and day out, is to re-measure ocean depths to update nautical charts, search for dangers to navigation, and give mariners the information they need to protect lives and increase shipping efficiencies.


Coast Survey has six navigation response teams that survey port areas at the request of port officials or the U.S. Coast Guard. Read more about 2012 plans for Texas, Florida, New York, Maine, California and Washington..