The NOAA Research Vessel Bay Hydro II is Coast Survey’s primary platform to test and evaluate new hydrographic survey technologies, including autonomous underwater vehicles, as well as a platform for surveying the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay Hydro II also serves as a navigation response team, and can be mobilized to search for underwater dangers to navigation near port entrances and critical shipping routes after a hurricane or other emergency.
Bay Hydro II was commissioned in April 2009, and it homeports in Solomons, Maryland. The crew consists of one NOAA Corps officer and two physical scientists trained in hydrography.
Bay Hydro II is equipped with multibeam, vertical beam and side scan echo sounding sonar equipment to map the Chesapeake’s seafloor. The vessel is 57 feet long. Its maximum speed is 31.5 knots, with a cruise speed of 25 knots. The range is 625 nautical miles.
Coast Survey uses data acquired by Bay Hydro II to update Chesapeake Bay’s 50 nautical charts, in paper, digital, and electronic formats. Coastal managers, engineers, biologists, planners, and policymakers also use the data to understand the formation and habitats of the Chesapeake. With this information, they are better equipped to make decisions about today’s critical issues, such as managing fisheries, regulating coastal development, and assessing coastal resources.
Bay Hydro II dedication (YouTube)