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Bay Hydro II Helps Boat in Distress
NOAA's Office of Coast Survey deployed Bay Hydro II in April 2009, to improve maritime safety in the Chesapeake Bay

Thanks to quick action by NOAA research vessel Bay Hydro II, a private pleasure boat’s outing on Chesapeake Bay didn’t turn deadly or disastrous.

On Tuesday, July 19, Bay Hydro II, which was conducting Office of Coast Survey hydrographic surveys around Hooper Island on the Chesapeake Bay, heard a distress call from a 48-foot wooden hulled cruiser. The boat was drifting with the current and taking on water. Its position plotted within five nautical miles of Bay Hydro II’s working grounds.

Lt.j.g. Megan Guberski, officer in charge of Bay Hydro II, gave the order to respond. BHII found the boat in distress, and two members of the NOAA crew -- a physical scientist and a cartographer -- went onboard the private boat, with two portable dewatering pumps, to try to save it. The wooden boat’s seams had sprung, however, and they were not able to make progress with the dewatering operation.

“Any boat within range should respond to a distress call,” explained Cmdr. Todd Haupt, chief of NOAA Office of Coast Survey’s Navigation Response Branch. “Bay Hydro II is designed to measure ocean depths and search for underwater dangers to mariners, but the crew is trained to assist with water surface operations as well.”

At the same time Bay Hydro II was responding, the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources Police boat, the Chesapeake, arrived at the scene. Unfortunately, their pumping equipment was designed for a bigger vessel and was not compatible with the private cruiser.

After the NOAA crew spent an hour working with the boat and its owners, ensuring the safety of the passengers and trying to save the boat, a U.S. Coast Guard small boat appeared and assumed leadership of the rescue. The Coast Guard, Bay Hydro II, and Chesapeake escorted the boat into Solomons, where it could be hauled out.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey deployed Bay Hydro II in April 2009 to identify hazards to navigation and collect data for nautical charts of the Chesapeake. The vessel is also Coast Survey’s primary platform for evaluating emerging hydrographic survey technologies. Coast Survey is the nation’s chartmaker, supporting maritime safety and coastal economies since 1807.

July 21, 2011

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