NOAA Commissions High-tech Coastal Mapping Ship

NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler will support NOAA’s nautical charting mission

NOAA commissioned a state-of-the-art coastal mapping vessel, NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler, during a special ceremony at NOAA’s Marine Operations Center-Atlantic in Norfolk, Va.

The new ship’s primary mission will be to detect and monitor changes to the sea floor. Data collected by the ship will be used to update nautical charts, detect potential hazards to navigation, and enhance our understanding of the ever-changing marine environment.

“With the growth in the size of commercial vessels and the importance of waterborne commerce to our economic security, there is a critical need for accurate information about our coastal waterways,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction. “This advanced NOAA survey vessel will play a vital role in ensuring safe navigation and commerce as we work each and every day to position America for the future.”

Ferdinand R. Hassler will operate mainly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Caribbean Sea and Great Lakes in support of the NOAA Office of Coast Survey’s nautical charting mission. The 124-foot ship will conduct basic hydrographic surveys of the sea floor using side scan and multibeam sonar technologies. The ship is also equipped to deploy buoys and unmanned submersibles and conduct general oceanographic research. Ferdinand R. Hassler’s twin-hull design is particularly suited to NOAA’s mission to map the ocean floor, as it is more stable than a single-hull vessel.

“NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler represents a major step forward in NOAA’s effort to modernize the agency’s fleet,” said Rear Adm. Jonathan Bailey, director of the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Corps. “This new, highly capable ship will enable surveyors to map waterways and coastal areas both accurately and efficiently.”

The ship was named by a team of tenth-grade students and a teacher from Naugatuck High School in Naugatuck, Conn., who won a regional NOAA contest to name the vessel. The ship’s namesake, Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler (1770-1843), served as the founding superintendent of the Coast Survey, the precursor to today’s NOAA. The ship’s sponsor, Catherine H. Sununu, wife of former New Hampshire U.S. Senator John Sununu, christened the vessel prior to the reading of the commissioning orders.

NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler is part of the NOAA fleet of ships and aircraft operated, managed and maintained by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which includes both civilians and the commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The ship will be homeported in New Castle, N.H.

NOAA’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.


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