Norfolk, Va.-based NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson to Map Ocean Floor in Gulf of Mexico
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, one of the most technologically advanced hydrographic survey vessels in the world, departed its Norfolk, Va. homeport on April 6 to conduct a five-month long effort to map the seafloor and look for hazards to navigation off the Gulf coast.
“The Gulf of Mexico has been affected by a number of large hurricanes in recent years, and our work will pinpoint the resulting hazards and shoals in these busy waters,” said Cmdr. Shepard Smith, Thomas Jefferson’s commanding officer.
Thomas Jefferson’s primary mission is to collect and process the data needed to maintain and update the nautical charts along the U.S. East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“With dynamic changes in maritime commerce, especially the tremendous growth in the size and draft of commercial vessels, surveying coastal areas and sea lanes helps to support America’s maritime economy,” said Capt. John Lowell, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “Waterborne cargo contributes more than $742 billion to the nation’s economy, and NOAA’s hydrographic surveys provide real support for continuing growth in maritime trade.”
Equipped with high resolution seafloor imagers, the 208-ft. Thomas Jefferson and 36-person crew can map the ocean bottom and identify areas of interest to coastal managers, biologists, geologists and emergency responders.
In 2005, Thomas Jefferson conducted hydrographic surveys to support safe navigation and commerce following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson was named in honor of the president who, in 1807, formed the Survey of the Coast, the agency whose successors would eventually become part of NOAA.
Thomas Jefferson is part of the NOAA fleet of ships and aircraft operated, managed and maintained by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which includes commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps and civilian wage mariners.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit http://www.noaa.gov.