From historic air disasters to hurricane response, NOAA uses cutting edge science to survey the seafloor

NOAA ships Rude and Whiting's search limits off Martha’s Vineyard.

By Christine Burns

Hydrographic surveying continually evolves to improve safety, efficiency, and accuracy in data collection. From using side scan sonar equipment during hydrographic survey response efforts following air disasters in the late 1990s, to recent hurricane response efforts to re-open ports to maritime commerce, our science always strives to be cutting edge.

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A dynamic river calls for dynamic collaborations

Lt. j.g. Shelley Devereaux monitors survey collection near Price Island on the Columbia River.

By Lt. j.g. Michelle Levano, Officer in Charge, Navigation Response Team-Seattle

Navigation response team (NRT)-Seattle continued hydrographic survey work on one of the West’s most relentless rivers, the Columbia. The Columbia River is the lifeblood of the regional economy, expanding far beyond the natural divide it provides between the states of Oregon and Washington.

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Coast Survey spotlight: Meet Kurt Mueller

Kurt Mueller and survey technicians

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.


Kurt Mueller, physical scientist

“The hydrographic data we acquire and review adds to the scientific knowledge of the seafloor and is valuable to other agencies to simulate sea level effects on coasts, identify sensitive marine habitats, and select alternative energy sites, among many other uses.”

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Register for NOAA Nav-cast webinar – S-100 for System Implementers

NOAA Nav-cast announcement for S-100 System Implementers presentation

Join us for our first NOAA Nav-cast, a quarterly webinar series that highlights the tools and trends of NOAA navigation services.

S-100 for System Implementers
Learn about the S-100 Universal Hydrographic Data Model and what navigation system developers need to know in order to implement various S-100 based product specifications. Also, gain insight into NOAA’s work in the S-100 product development space for S-111 surface currents. 

Date and time: Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 11 a.m. (EDT)
How to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7354579801420345345

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Centennial anniversary of aerial surveying and mapping

By Kevin Mackenzie

A year after Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS) Director Ernest Lester Jones returned from World War I, he took the Survey’s mission to the sky. From his time in war, Jones understood the advantages that airplane photography had for locating military features of the enemy. In his 1919 annual report to Commerce Secretary William C. Redfield, he noted, “The same principle employed in the military work can be used in surveying and mapping.” The following months would produce a series of tests and research in cooperation with the Air Services of the Army and Navy.

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NOAA releases 2019 hydrographic survey plans

NOAA Hydrographic Survey Projects 2019 story map cover

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is the nation’s nautical chartmaker, and maintains a suite of more than a thousand nautical charts. Coast Survey is responsible for charting U.S. waters and Great Lakes covering 3.4 million square nautical miles (SNM) of water and 95,000 miles of coastline.

NOAA’s hydrographic survey ships along with hydrographic contractor vessels, recently kicked off the 2019 hydrographic survey season. These surveys not only update the suite of nautical charts, but also help to maintain the safety of maritime commerce, recreational boaters, natural ecosystems, and much more. Operations are scheduled for maritime priority areas around the country and are outlined in Coast Survey’s “living” story map. Here is a list of where they are headed this year:

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NOAA releases new edition of nautical chart symbol guide

U.S. Chart No. 1 booklet covers

Edition 13 of U.S. Chart No. 1 is now available to download for free on Coast Survey’s website. Paper copies may also be purchased from any of four NOAA Chart No. 1 publishing agents.

This 130-page book describes the symbols, abbreviations, and terms used on paper  NOAA nautical charts and for displaying NOAA electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) data on Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS). The document also shows paper chart symbols used by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and symbols specified by the International Hydrographic Organization.

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NOAA encourages all mariners to use NOAA ENC® for latest updates and other advantages

ECDIS display on the bridge of a tanker ship.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey maintains a suite of over 1,000 NOAA electronic navigational charts (ENC) and paper nautical charts, and like many other chart producing nations, maintains an ENC focused production process called “ENC-first.” That is, ENCs are the “first” or primary nautical product, and new data is compiled onto ENCs before all other products.

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Change of command for NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Capt. Chris van Westendorp and Cmdr. Briana Welton Hillstrom salute with Capt. Zezula looking on.

On April 12, 2019, the crew of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson hosted a change of command in Brooklyn, NY. Cmdr. Briana Welton Hillstrom accepted command of Thomas Jefferson, relieving Capt. Christiaan van Westendorp in a ceremony led by Capt. David Zezula, commanding officer of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) Marine Operations Center-Atlantic.

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