NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson successfully tests new wireless system that aids remote vessel operation

By Lt. Charles Wisotzkey, NOAA

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson successfully tested a new wireless networking system while working in the Approaches to Houston/Galveston and around Puerto Rico during the 2018 field season. This new system connects the ship and its two hydrographic survey launches, providing a level of wireless connectivity previously unobtainable with traditional wireless communications systems. NOAA anticipates this will increase unmanned system productivity while conducting hydrographic surveys. Continue reading “NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson successfully tests new wireless system that aids remote vessel operation”

NOAA detects navigation hazards following Hurricane Michael

sunken vessel with navigation response team vessel in foreground

After quickly gaining the strength of a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Michael reached the panhandle of Florida on Wednesday, October 10. With maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and storm surge reaching 15 feet, this storm wiped out coastal communities and closed ports to all traffic in the area. Dangerous winds and storm surge can shift sands and pull large objects beneath the waves, creating hazards to navigation. Before ports can reopen and safely resume vessel traffic, the U.S. Coast Guard must be aware of any underwater dangers so they can either be properly charted or removed. Continue reading “NOAA detects navigation hazards following Hurricane Michael”

NOAA and USGS collaborate to fulfill important agency missions in offshore areas along the West Coast

This summer, the Coastal and Marine Geology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey together ran an interagency ocean mapping project across several large portions of the Cascadia Margin, offshore of California, Oregon, and Washington states.

This collaboration,  conducted aboard the NOAA Ship Rainier, used hydrographic surveying equipment to collect swath bathymetry, backscatter intensity data, and full water column data within the project areas. The high-resolution geospatial data acquired will provide key baseline data for targeted USGS studies to improve hazard assessment and forecasting for marine geohazards offshore of northern California, Oregon, and Washington.  NOAA will also use the data to update nautical charts for safe navigation in the region. Continue reading “NOAA and USGS collaborate to fulfill important agency missions in offshore areas along the West Coast”

NOAA charts new hazards and helps ports recover following Hurricane Florence

While conducting hydrographic surveys at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard following Hurricane Florence, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey navigation response teams (NRT) identified hazardous obstructions in the Cape Fear River channel. Since these dangers to navigation will remain in place while the port reopens, NOAA updated its charts with the new hazards and distributed them to the port, Coast Guard, and key stakeholders. The time from the survey to the publication of the chart was less than 24 hours, an unprecedented accomplishment for Coast Survey. Continue reading “NOAA charts new hazards and helps ports recover following Hurricane Florence”

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson presents survey work to Puerto Rico South Coast stakeholders

By Cmdr. Chris van Westendorp, Commanding Officer of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Almost one year following the passage and destruction of Hurricane Maria, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson has returned to Puerto Rico. Following the storm, Thomas Jefferson deployed in September 2017 for hydrographic hurricane response work in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (PR/USVI). The ship and crew surveyed 18 individual port facilities to ensure safety of navigation and help re-open the region for maritime commerce. Thomas Jefferson’s second major project of 2018 has brought the ship back to Puerto Rico from August to November, conducting follow-up survey work along the north and south coasts. Continue reading “NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson presents survey work to Puerto Rico South Coast stakeholders”

NOAA readies survey response teams ahead of Hurricane Florence

Map of survey response asset locations

Hurricane Florence is due to make landfall on Friday morning, September 14, on the coast of North Carolina. While it creeps its way toward the East Coast, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is prepared to deploy its hydrographic survey assets to help speed the resumption of vessel traffic in our nation’s ports following the storm. Continue reading “NOAA readies survey response teams ahead of Hurricane Florence”

NOAA surveys support safe anchorage in the Columbia River

By Lt. j.g. Michelle Levano

Starting in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, the Columbia River flows through Washington state and turns west to form the border of Washington and Oregon, serving as the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region.

The river and its tributaries are central to Pacific Northwest culture and the lifeblood of the regional economy.  The Columbia River is the West Coast’s leader in foreign trade supporting 50 million tons of dry bulk, mineral bulk, wood, and auto imports and exports. It is also the nation’s leading wheat export gateway and second for corn and soybean exports. Continue reading “NOAA surveys support safe anchorage in the Columbia River”

Coast Survey spotlight: Meet Lt. Bart Buesseler


Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.


Lt. Bart Buesseler, navigation manager

“It is extremely rewarding to interact with our users and see how important our products are to their livelihoods. I’ve always known our work was “important”, but to actually get that feedback on a daily basis from the users motivates me to come to work every day.”

Continue reading “Coast Survey spotlight: Meet Lt. Bart Buesseler”

From NOAA Ship Fairweather to Mt. Fairweather: Commanding officer summits ship’s namesake

The high camp, at an elevation of 10,400 feet on the Grand Plateau Glacier.

By Cmdr. Mark Van Waes, former commanding officer of NOAA Ship Fairweather

Mount Fairweather stands tall above Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, dominating the skyline for miles around (when weather permits visibility). Only about 12 miles inshore from the Gulf of Alaska and soaring to 15,325 feet, it is one of the highest coastal peaks in the world.

Continue reading “From NOAA Ship Fairweather to Mt. Fairweather: Commanding officer summits ship’s namesake”