NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson is conducting a three-month survey of the seafloor off the coast of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as part of a multi-year effort to update nautical charts for Block Island Sound.
The data acquired by the 208-foot hydrographic survey vessel will also support a seafloor mapping initiative by Connecticut and New York.
The survey is also aimed at improving navigational accuracy, especially as it affects larger vessels. “With bigger ships, crowded sea lanes, and more uses of ocean areas, shipping today is increasingly a task of precision and accuracy,” explained NOAA Cmdr. Lawrence Krepp, commanding officer of Thomas Jefferson and the ship’s chief scientist. “This area is seeing an increase in the numbers of deep-draft vessels requiring depths of more than 60 feet, and the pilots need precise and up-to-date depth measurements.”
“Ocean floors are amazingly dynamic, and we have to chart those changes,” Krepp said. “Our data is used to update NOAA’s nautical charts, but the hydrographic information can also be used to support a number of non-traditional uses, ranging from benefits to fisheries management to support of regional ocean planning efforts.”
Commissioned in 2003, Thomas Jefferson is one of three ships in the NOAA fleet that conduct hydrographic surveys in support of the nautical charting mission of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey.
The current survey effort of the area began in 2009, when the ship surveyed 174 square nautical miles in Block Island Sound. This year’s effort, from August through November, will survey 228 square nautical miles.