By MarEx 2015-06-09 11:23:41
NOAA officially deployed two survey ships Monday in a bid to improve navigational safety in the Arctic.
The Rainier and Fairweather will conduct surveys of the ocean floor to measure water depths and search for navigational dangers. This data will be used to update Alaskan navigational maps and improve overall safety.
NOAA is currently stepping up Arctic charting activities in anticipation of growing vessel traffic in the region. This year’s hydrographic project areas for Alaska will cover an area of 2,800 square nautical miles, plus the 12,000 linear nautical miles for the shipping route project.
In remarks directed to the crews of NOAA ships, Vice Admiral Michael S. Devany, NOAA deputy under secretary for operations, said, “Most Arctic waters that are charted were surveyed with obsolete technology, with some of the information dating back to Captain Cook’s voyages, long before the region was part of the United States. Your work this summer is a crucial mission in our determination to make the Arctic seas safer for shipping, sustenance, and marine life.”
The NOAA ships will collect new charting data for Port Clarence, Kotzebue Sound, and Point Hope. The ships will also survey the seafloor as they transit to and from the project areas, collecting data along a potential Arctic shipping route from Unimak Island to the Chukchi Sea, as proposed in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Port Access Route Study for the region.
NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which manages NOAA’s surveys and creates the nation’s nautical charts, will also manage a survey project conducted by TerraSond under a federal contract. The private company will check the extent of the Prince of Wales shoals, to help vessels transiting to and from points in the Chukchi and Bering Seas.
The Rainier and the Fairweather were launched at a June 8 World Ocean Day Ceremony and mark the official start of the 2015 Arctic hydrographic survey season. NOAA is also carrying out non-Arctic Alaskan survey projects for Chatham Strait, Shumagin Islands, Kodiak, and west Prince of Wales Island.