NOAA surveys Prince of Wales Island seafloor
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel Rainier has started a month-long survey of the seafloor near Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island as part of a multiyear effort to update nautical charts for the area.
In addition to supporting marine navigation, data acquired by the 231-foot hydrographic survey vessel will support marine ecosystem studies and improve inundation models for areas vulnerable to tsunamis. The initiative also supports safer navigation for fishing and cargo vessels operating in the area.
NOAA’s survey effort in the area began in 2006 with the Gulf of Esquilbel and has continued south over recent years. The first surveys of the area took place in the early 1900s.
Commissioned in 1968, Rainier is one of three ships in the NOAA fleet that conducts hydrographic surveys in support of the nautical charting mission of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. Rainier last visited the area in 2009 before undergoing a yearlong, $13.1-million major repair during which the ship was outfitted with the latest equipment to conduct surveys with even greater efficiency and accuracy.
The Commerce Department agency’s Office of Coast Survey, originally formed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, updates the nation’s nautical charts, surveys the coastal seafloor, responds to maritime emergencies and searches for underwater obstructions and wreckage that pose a danger to navigation.