ASV used for first time to update NOAA charts


The following is the text of a news release from TerraSond Ltd.:

(PALMER, Alaska) — The first use of an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) to perform bathymetry for updating the U.S. nautical charts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) occurred in the Alaskan Arctic this summer. Surveying alongside TerraSond’s mother vessel, the ASV collected data simultaneously on adjacent survey lines, effectively doubling the production rate. The ASV also surveyed by itself in areas too shallow and dangerous for the larger vessel to work, eliminating some risk to the surveyors.

“This is a force multiplier for data acquisition. Operated in a semi-autonomous mode, unmanned but supervised, one person can replace the three-person crew it would normally take to operate a survey launch. It is definitely the future of seafloor mapping,” said Tom Newman, president of TerraSond.

Demand for hydrographic surveys for charting purposes is not going away. According to the 2012 NOAA Hydrographic Survey Priorities (NHSP), 511,000 square nautical miles (SQNM) of the U.S. seafloor is classified as “navigationally significant” and in need of modern, full-coverage surveys. Since 1993, when full coverage sonar surveys began, only about 39,000 SQNM or 7 percent has actually been completed. Without significant advances in technology such as the use of ASVs surveying the navigationally significant areas will required many decades or even centuries.

TerraSond would like to thank Thomas Chance of ASV and his team for supporting this effort, and also Support Vessels of Alaska Inc. for help in deployment and recovery onboard the R/V Qualifier 105 survey vessel. The survey was funded by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (NOAA-OCS) as part of its mission to update the Arctic’s nautical charts.

TerraSond has been providing surveys under contract to NOAA for updates of the U.S. nautical charts since 1998. TerraSond provides precision land and marine geospatial, geophysical, and geoscience survey solutions dedicated to imaging the earth worldwide. Headquartered in Palmer, Alaska, TerraSond operates both domestically and internationally through its multiple U.S. and foreign locations. Our domestic locations are Seattle, Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas.

By Professional Mariner Staff