Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Report
Office of Coast Survey

Hydrographic Survey Ensures Navigation Safety for Presidential Inauguration

A NOAA navigation response team conducted homeland security surveys in the Potomac in the weeks leading up to the Presidential Inauguration

A NOAA navigation response team conducted homeland security surveys in the Potomac in the weeks leading up to the Presidential Inauguration.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Presidential Inaugural team requested a hydrographic survey of the Potomac River by the Office of Coast Survey, in preparation for the inauguration. A small survey boat, using the latest technology, searched for dangers to navigation and acquired new depth measurements to ensure navigation safety and to assist with homeland security requirements. Survey technicians and cartographers processed the data, and personnel from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services provided priority processing of tidal information, so NOAA could create customized charting products for this event.

NOAA Cartographers Find Underwater Hazard for Proposed Anchorage Area

Earlier this year, cartographers from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey flagged a potentially dangerous situation during their review of a proposed federal rule establishing new anchorage areas on the Mississippi River. The proposed anchorage areas were based on non-NOAA charts that did not depict the underwater pipelines. The pipelines, which carry benzene, posed a potential danger if ships dropped anchor on top of them. The pipeline areas are depicted on the NOAA nautical chart (chart 11370). That chart data and original source files led to the cancellation of the proposed anchorage area.

Navigation Expertise Helps Alaskan Shell Drilling Vessel Get Out of a Jam

An Office of Coast Survey regional navigation manager assisted with recovery efforts after the Shell Drill Rig Kulluk went adrift in the Gulf of Alaska. Working closely with the National Weather Service Alaska Region and the Office of Response and Restoration’s scientific support coordinator, the navigation manager provided updated bathymetry data and expertise as responders were choosing areas for safe anchorage. When the Kulluk grounded on New Year's Eve, the navigation manager provided the Incident Command with graphics of survey vintage and bathymetry data. The navigation manager continued to provide support when the Kulluk was re-floated and transported to a port of refuge in Kiliuda Bay for further assessment.

NOAA and Private Organizations Cooperate to Make Navigation Safer

This year marked the 50th anniversary of a cooperative charting program between NOAA and the U.S. Power Squadrons (USPS), a civilian volunteer organization dedicated to safe boating. To commemorate the milestone, NOAA and the USPS renewed the extremely cost-effective cooperative charting program, which uses Squadron members’ personal knowledge to correct chart errors resulting from constant changes to coastlines and sea floors.

NOAA also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the American Pilots Association this year. This agreement encourages the association’s 57 pilot groups to provide information to update the U.S. Coast Pilot and NOAA’s nautical charts. The MOA also facilitates quick investigations of apparent discrepancies between actual and charted features that could pose dangers to navigation or affect shipping efficiencies.

NOAA Provides Resources for Recreational Boaters

Image of Chesapeake Bay BookletChart

An image of a Chesapeake Bay BookletChart for boaters.

The Office of Coast Survey is mandated to provide nautical products that help make the nation’s maritime transportation safe. In addition to developing and improving navigational products for commercial mariners, Coast Survey also strives to serve the recreational boating community. Responding to requests from both the U.S. Power Squadrons and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary instructors, this year Coast Survey produced a one-stop shop for NOAA products that promote safe and enjoyable recreational boating. Through both printed educational materials and the NOAA Coast Survey blog, recreational boaters can access a suite of free products, including Coast Survey’s BookletCharts, nowCOAST, and the historical map and chart collection.