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March 6, 2007

Contact:  David Hall
(301) 713-3066 ext. 191

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey Decreases Response to Hurricane Impacts on Ports

Experts from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey will discuss the agency’s response to hurricane impacts on ports, harbors, navigation channels at the 61st Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, La., March 7, 2007.

The presentations will focus on issues such as how NOAA prioritizes its response to the reopening of critical ports and waterways and its interagency collaboration with federal, state and port emergency responders. The presentation will also highlight current expanded surveying efforts to identify debris and hazards that are impacting the shrimping and other commercial fishing industry as well as navigation and recreational fishing in hurricane impacted coastal bays and nearshore areas.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is implementing the nation’s largest hazards survey program at this time spanning over 600 square nautical miles of water in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

“Waterways must be surveyed and cleared before oil tankers, cargo ships, and other vessels can safely transit the area.” said Capt. Steven Barnum, director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey. “In recent years, ships have gotten longer, wider, and deeper, and determining precise water depths is imperative for safe navigation. Hurricanes can play havoc with the sea bottom, rendering the depths and obstructions on nautical charts obsolete."

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is the nation’s hydrographic surveying and nautical charting expert. When coastal disasters strike, it leads federal emergency hydrographic response efforts, acquiring data on depths and obstructions that are essential to reopening vital waterways.

In the aftermath of large storm events such as a hurricane, NOAA deploys its resources, including response teams, hydrographic survey vessels, and state-of-the-art technologies. Regional navigation managers work diligently to coordinate large scale response efforts with other NOAA offices, other agencies, ports, maritime industries, and local authorities to rapidly resurvey and re-chart affected areas in support of safe marine navigation and the rapid resumption of maritime commerce.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America’s scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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