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Better technology, better charts

Sep 18, 2013

NOAA's new autonomous underwater vehicle maps the sea floor off New Hampshire

Crewmembers aboard Ferdinand R. Hassler prepare to launch NOAA's new AUV.

Crewmembers aboard Ferdinand R. Hassler prepare to launch NOAA's new AUV.

Courtesy Lt. Olivia Hauser

Man the torpedoes.

That’s what came to mind when I first saw NOAA’s new bathymetric autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), a 675-pound, 13-foot cylinder that will help produce high-tech maps of the sea floor — and more accurate nautical charts.

Experts aboard NOAA’s Ferdinand R. Hassler recently completed extended testing of the AUV in the approaches to Portsmouth, N.H., deploying it on 10 missions lasting up to 16 hours. Programming and monitoring protocols were standardized, and crewmembers developed procedures to safely deploy and recover the remotely operated vehicle.

The AUV has high-resolution equipment similar to Hassler’s, including a high-accuracy positioning system and a multi-beam echo sounder. The result is “seamless” seabed maps that will improve the efficiency of NOAA’s underwater surveying, according to the agency.

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