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”

NOAA researches autonomous survey system in the Arctic

The unmanned surface vehicle BEN launched from NOAA Ship Fairweather. Photo by Christina Belton, NOAA.

By Rob Downs, Office of Coast Survey unmanned systems projects lead

A team composed of research engineers and a graduate student from the University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center (UNH CCOM/JHC) and personnel from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey are aboard the NOAA Ship Fairweather to test UNH’s BEN (Bathymetric Explorer and Navigator) unmanned surface vehicle (USV). On Saturday, July 28, the Fairweather made the first successful launch of a USV for an operational hydrographic survey from a NOAA vessel in the Arctic. The team conducted four additional deployments, including an extended overnight survey made in coordination with the ship.

Continue reading “NOAA researches autonomous survey system in the Arctic”

NOAA welcomes local and international attendees at 2018 Nautical Cartography Open House

RDML Tim Gallaudet (Navy, ret.) with Sean Leger of Coast Survey

Last week NOAA Coast Survey welcomed approximately 170 attendees representing 17 countries to the 2018 Nautical Cartography Open House. Industry partners, members of the public, and other government agencies attended, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Naval Hydrographic and Oceanic Service (SHOM) from France, Canadian Hydrographic Service, Dalian Naval Academy, National Taiwan Ocean University, and the Joint Hydrographic Center/Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (JHC/CCOM).

Continue reading “NOAA welcomes local and international attendees at 2018 Nautical Cartography Open House”

NOAA hosts 2018 Chart Adequacy Workshop

On July 23, NOAA Coast Survey hosted a three-day Chart Adequacy Workshop that included participants from 13 countries. This is the fourth Chart Adequacy Workshop held at NOAA’s Silver Spring, Maryland campus.

The participants of the 2018 Chart Adequacy Workshop.
Participants and instructors of the 2018 Chart Adequacy Workshop.

The main goal of the workshop is to provide training for professional cartographers and hydrographers on techniques for assessing nautical chart adequacy using publicly-available information, such as satellite images and maritime automatic identification system (AIS) data. The participants received an overview on Coast Survey datasets, processes, and requirements for nautical charts. They also learned about preprocessing hydrographic data, such as loading charts, uploading imagery, and applying electronic navigation charts (ENCs) and AIS point data. Through a series of lab units, the attendees practiced performing the concepts they learned.

Unlike previous years (2017, 2016, 2015), the focus of this class was on networking and support for the upcoming International Cartographic Association (ICA) Working Group on Marine Cartography meeting held on July 26 and in preparation for next year’s International Cartographic Conference (ICC). During the 2019 ICC in Tokyo, Japan, a key focus for the Working Group on Marine Cartography will be to return to the status of a Commission on Marine Cartography.

An attendee shares information about her home cartographic offices with other participants.
An attendee shares information about her home cartographic offices with other participants.

The 2018 participants were from Australia, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Taiwan, and Trinidad and Tobago. The international nature of the event allows the participants to meet and learn from cartographers from a variety of backgrounds and expertise. The individuals were nominated by their home hydrographic offices and their travel was sponsored by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO).

Rear Adm. Shep Smith greets the workshop attendees as they begin a tour of the Coast Survey offices in Silver Spring, Maryland
Rear Adm. Shep Smith greets the workshop attendees as they begin a tour of the Coast Survey office in Silver Spring, Maryland

The workshop was developed in part to address the need to improve the collection, quality, and availability of hydrographic data world-wide, and increase the standardization of chart adequacy evaluations across the globe. Coast Survey is currently working with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) to recommend participants for next year’s workshop.