NOAA’s highly mobile navigation response teams speed the resumption of shipping after storms, or help protect life and property from underwater dangers to navigation. When they are not responding to emergencies, the teams respond to the needs of the maritime economy by conducting hydrographic surveys for critical chart updates for 175 major ports within the U.S. marine transportation system.
Keeping mariners safe and commerce flowing
The Office of Coast Survey deploys six teams to conduct long-term hydrographic projects in critical maritime areas. (While surveying, the teams remain on alert to respond to emergencies anywhere on the nation’s coasts, in a moment’s notice.)
Working with NOAA’s regional navigation managers, the teams re-measure the depths of changing seafloors and search for underwater dangers to navigation that could slow down or halt ocean shipping. They provide time-sensitive information to the U.S. Coast Guard or port officials, and transmit data to NOAA cartographers for updating Coast Survey’s suite of navigational charts.
These hydrographic field units are equipped with trailer-able survey launches. The teams use state of the art hydrographic equipment to gather photograph-like imagery of the entire sea floor. All teams have side-scan sonar and several teams have multibeam sonar to generate three dimensional views of what lies below the surface.
Initiating a NOAA navigation response
Requests for a NOAA navigation response team originate from the appropriate U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port, state pilot association, port authority, or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office. Requesters work with regional navigation managers to identify mission objectives and define the deliverable products.