NOAA plans to increase charting operations in the Arctic to update its nautical charts. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey will use data collected by two of its own ships, Rainier and Fairweather, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy and a private sector hydrographic contractor to cover nearly 12,000 nautical miles in the Arctic for use in updating its navigational charts.
The NOAA-led Arctic marine corridor project will work with the Coast Guard to asses the safety of a potential Arctic shipping route from Unimak Island, the largest of the Aleutian Islands, through the Bering Strait to the Chukchi Sea, as proposed by the USCG, which is taking public comments on the rulemaking.
“Much of our charting data in this corridor is from surveys conducted a hundred years ago,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “So right now, we need to conduct reconnaissance of the seafloor in high traffic areas to make sure they are safe for navigation.”
Other work planned for this summer includes hydrographic surveys in Kotzebue Sound, off Point Hope, and Port Clarence, a location of interest as deepwater port.