NOAA and Coast Guard survey shallow channels in eastern Chesapeake Bay to update aids to navigation

Echoboat ASV surveys in the Pocomoke River Channel to investigate possible shoaling.

By Lt j.g. Patrick Debroisse

The area of the Chesapeake Bay along the Eastern Shore of Maryland is one of our nation’s treasures. Home to unique underwater grasses, fish, and shellfish, this complex transition from river to sea is also home to millions of tons of sediment delivered annually from eroding land and streams. Recreational boaters, fisherman, and cruising vessels are keenly aware of the shifting sands and sediment deposits in these shallow waters and rely on aids to navigation (ATON) — a system of beacons and buoys — to travel safely to and from the harbors and docks along the shoreline.

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Crew of NOAA Ship Rainier surveys Everett, Washington, to update charts

By Lt. j.g. Michelle Levano

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RA-6 in Elliott Bay, downtown Seattle. Photo Credit: Lt. Andrew Clos

As NOAA Ship Rainier underwent repairs in South Seattle, the ship’s survey launches and their crews carried out a project to update nautical charts around the Port of Everett and its approaches in Possession Sound. The boats used state-of-the-art positioning and multibeam echo sounder systems to achieve full bottom coverage of the seafloor.

The ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett have experienced an increase in vessel traffic and capacity within the last decade. The Port of Everett serves as an international shipping port bringing jobs, trade, and recreational opportunities to the city. Across Possession Sound, Naval Station Everett is the homeport for five guided-missile destroyers, and two U.S. Coast Guard cutters. The data collected from this project will support additional military traffic transiting to and from Naval Submarine Base Bangor in addition to the Washington State Ferries’ Mukilteo/Clinton ferry route, commercial and tribal fishing, and recreational boating in the area. Continue reading “Crew of NOAA Ship Rainier surveys Everett, Washington, to update charts”

NOAA surveys Lake Champlain for improved flood modeling and mitigation strategies

At the request of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL), NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey deployed a survey team and a new autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) to gather hydrographic data in and around the narrow causeway inlets that dot the Lake Champlain basin in Vermont. GLERL will use the data to improve flood forecast models and analyze flood mitigation strategies in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River system as part of a U.S. and Canada study led by the International Joint Commission.

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Coast Survey spotlight: Meet Starla Robinson

Starla Robinson served as a crew member on the NOAA Ship Rainier. Photo credit: Lt. Damian Manda, NOAA Corps

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We will 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.


Starla Robinson, Physical Scientist

The work we do has real value and every sounding takes a team of professionals from multiple disciplines. I like being a part of something greater.

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Echo sounder encounter: NOAA Ship Rainier finds uncharted shipwreck

By Katy Pridgen

In late spring, while surveying off the coast of Long Island in Kodiak, Alaska, NOAA Ship Rainier found an uncharted shipwreck. Although rocks around the shipwreck were previously charted, this sunken vessel is a new feature. What made the find unique was how the top of wreck’s mast resembled a yellow light at the water’s surface. The Rainier crew fondly nicknamed it “ET’s finger.” Continue reading “Echo sounder encounter: NOAA Ship Rainier finds uncharted shipwreck”

Have a question for NOAA Coast Survey? Meet our “Answer Man”

By Nick Perugini

Nick PeruginiAs the nation’s nautical chartmaker, NOAA Office of Coast survey serves a wide range of customers ranging from recreational boaters and operators of cargo ships, to historical chart enthusiasts. Customers throughout the world send us questions, comments, and also chart discrepancy reports, letting us know they found an error on a chart. As the Coast Survey “Answer Man,” I manage this communication, including Coast Survey’s response. Customers submit inquiries through our Inquiry and Discrepancy Management System (IDMS) database. Continue reading “Have a question for NOAA Coast Survey? Meet our “Answer Man””

NOAA Ship Rainier concludes it’s 2017 survey of Deer Passage, Alaska

The total area surveyed by Rainier in the Cold Bay and King Cove Vicinity during the 2017 Field Season, complied by Hydrographic Senior Survey Technician Gahlinger.

NOAA Ship Rainier has been diligently surveying Deer Passage in the vicinity of Cold Bay and King Cove, Alaska, for the past month.

This navigationally significant area between Unga Strait and Sanak Island provides the only protected route for vessels transiting between the Gulf of Alaska, the very busy Unimak Passage, and the Bering Sea beyond. Deer Passage is heavily trafficked by fishing vessels, coastal freight traffic, and Alaska Marine Highway System ferries, and serves as an alternate route for deep-draft vessels on Trans-Pacific routes between North America and Asia. While in the area, Rainier observed particularly heavy use of the waterway by vessels engaged in local and Bering Sea fisheries, and towing vessels supporting remote Alaskan communities with barge service.

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NOAA helps ports recover in Georgia and Florida following Hurricane Irma

View of the first fuel ship entering the Port of Tampa after Hurricane Irma, as it passes NRT 5.

Just as Hurricane Harvey response was wrapping up for some of NOAA Coast Survey’s navigation response teams (NRT), personnel and survey assets were positioned in preparation for the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.   

For the NRTs, this meant traveling hundreds of miles with a survey vessel in tow, facing challenges such as locating fueling stations, finding available lodging, and finding opportunities to rest. For the mobile integrated survey team (MIST), which is available to travel anywhere in the U.S. when hydrographic survey assistance is needed by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), this meant finding transportation to a disaster area and a  “vessel of opportunity” to survey from once there. Continue reading “NOAA helps ports recover in Georgia and Florida following Hurricane Irma”

NOAA Ship Rainier holds change of command ceremony

by ENS Michelle Levano

On July 22, 2017, the crew of NOAA Ship Rainier hosted a change of command while at United States Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska.

Commander Benjamin Evans accepted command of Rainier, relieving Commander John Lomnicky in a ceremony led by Captain Keith Roberts, commanding officer of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) Marine Operations Center-Pacific. Distinguished guests included Captain Richard Brennan, chief of NOAA Office of Coast Survey’s Hydrographic Surveys Division, Mr. Greg Kaplan, Military and Veterans Affairs liaison for Senator Lisa Murkowski, Captain Jeffery Good, commanding officer United States Coast Guard (USCG) Base Kodiak, Commander Michael Levine, commanding officer of NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, and Commander Daniel Rogers, executive officer of United States Coast Guard Base Kodiak. Continue reading “NOAA Ship Rainier holds change of command ceremony”