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Thomas Jefferson Finds Uncharted Mystery
An uncharted obstruction was discovered by NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson's survey launch during routine hydrographic survey operations in Eastern Long Island Sound. On April 21, side scan sonar detected an object approximately 60 feet in length, two tenths of a mile off shore of Attawan Beach in Niantic Bay in 18 feet of water. Multibeam echosounders accurately imaged the mystery object and LIDAR data detected the scour surrounding it. Further investigation revealed the potential hazard to navigation, long since settled into Niantic Bay, is a crane and a thriving ecosystem. NOAA Corps Officer and diver, ENS Matt Jaskoski, a member of the two man dive team sent in to accurately measure and identify the obstruction says, “It was completely covered over with algae, lots of kelp, and growth with a pretty good blue fish population hanging out, relatively free of fishing gear and monofilament. It’s sitting in fine white sand and serving as an artificial reef. The cable was still attached and wound around its drum. The metal is pretty brittle so it’s fairly old.” The divers determined the least depth of the encrusted crane to be 9 feet at mean lower low water. Dickie Beers of Spencer Beers Inc., a Niantic local, has a long memory and confirmed the old age and the possible history of the mystery relic, “If I remember correctly, they were working on that particular break water, the Nehantic jetty, first jetty on Black Point. It’s been about 25 years, I was working in the area, one evening a storm blew through and the next morning the barge was still there, but the crane was missing.” The Danger to Navigation has been posted in “Notice to Mariners,” a U.S. Coast Guard publication used to update nautical charts.

The picture on the left is of a crane on a barge, similar to the one that sunk over 25 years ago in Niantic Bay.  The image to the right is the multibeam sonar image of the crane resting on the bottom of the bay.   
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