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.
Hurricane response efforts and logistics are closely coordinated by Coast Survey’s Navigation Services and Hydrographic Surveys divisions which include regionally located navigation managers, NRTs, and survey ships. This combination of expertise ensures that we are often the first ones on the water after a hurricane, making sure there is no hidden debris or shoaling that pose a danger to navigation. Once our teams notify the USCG of our findings, the quicker ports can re-open and resume shipping, and homeland security or defense operations.
Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia
Mid-Atlantic Navigation Manager Ryan Wartick, located in Norfolk, VA, is working with the USACE Savannah District on tasking for NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and NRT 2.
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is transiting from Norfolk, VA, to the Savannah/Brunswick area and is expected to arrive Thursday evening, September 14. They intend to survey portions of the port of Savannah and once complete, will travel to Brunswick.
NRT 2 (homeported in Fernandina Beach, FL, with James Kirkpatrick, Lucas Blass, and Alex Ligon – augmenting from NRT 1) is transiting to Brunswick, GA, from the NOAA Disaster Response Center in Mobile, AL, following Hurricane Harvey survey response. The team will begin surveying the waters around Brunswick including the East River and Jekyll Island Range inward on Wednesday, September 13.
Savannah and Brunswick update 9/13/17: NRT 2 is standing by as surveying in Brunswick was completed by USACE.
Southeast Navigation Manager Kyle Ward is positioned in Miami and coordinating operations and response efforts with USCG District 7.
The MIST (operated by Michael Annis, Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan French – augmenting from NRT 1, and John Doroba – augmenting from the Coast Survey Development Lab) traveled from the NOAA Disaster Response Center in Mobile, AL, via U.S. Coast Guard CASA HC-144A Ocean Sentry to Miami on Monday, September 11. This was the first flight into Miami post storm. The team is currently surveying the Fisher Island Channel in the port of Miami on board a vessel of opportunity provided by the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Miami update 9/13/17: MIST completed survey operations in the Port of Miami. The data provided by the MIST to the USCG Captain of the Port aided in the decision to re-open the port to cruise ships (with draft restrictions). MIST and southeast navigation manager are traveling to the Florida Keys to support hydrographic survey efforts.
Eastern Gulf Coast Navigation Manager, Tim Osborn, is in Tampa coordinating efforts along the west coast of Florida.
NRT 5 (homeported in New London, CT, with Ensign Dylan Kosten, Eli Smith, Michael Bloom, and Charles “Wess” Rowland – augmenting from NRT4) traveled hundreds of miles south with their vessel in tow to Tampa, FL, and arrived on Monday, September 11. The team is now surveying in Tampa Bay.
Tampa update 9/13/17: NRT 5 continues to survey in Tampa in coordination with USACE. USCG Captain of the Port allowed three fuel vessels to enter the port (with restrictions).
View of the first fuel ship entering the Port of Tampa after Hurricane Irma, as it passes NRT 5.