NOAA's Office of Coast Survey 2022 Year in Review
New Years is traditionally a time to reflect on personal and professional accomplishments of the last year, as well as look forward. For me, this also marks the beginning of my second year as Director of Coast Survey – so I am thinking back on what I learned and what we accomplished, and how we can amplify that in 2023 and beyond.
2022 marked the return to “more or less” normal travel and field work. Here are a few examples of Coast Survey's execution on new opportunities, and projects previously on hold:
NOAA Ship Rainier’s 2022 expedition to Guam and the Marianas for the “RICHARD” project was a culmination of planning that started in 2020. The campaign was finally completed in 2022, and was an unprecedented integration of the ship's traditional ocean and coastal mapping mission with NOAA's Coral Reef Monitoring Program. On the opposite side of the world, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson successfully executed the first deployment of a NOAA ship to the Great Lakes in 30 years, and dramatically exceeded Coast Survey's expectations for productivity, innovation, and outreach. A highlight of this was the acceptance testing and integration of the DriX uncrewed survey vessel, which was supported by the Joint Hydrographic Center and Coast Survey Development Lab.
Navigation response team-Stennis deployed to Annapolis, Maryland to complete a high resolution survey of shallow creeks in the Chesapeake Bay, utilizing their new Echoboat uncrewed survey vessel. These new data will support improvements to NOAA's coastal flood inundation models, as well as safe navigation.
2022 was also a big year on the technical front with major developments in our products and services:
The Coast Survey Development Lab released a new version of the NOS Lake Superior Operational Forecast System in collaboration with the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, and UMass-Dartmouth.
Hydrographic Surveys Division finalized a Data Licensing Policy for Coast Survey. Applying an open data license to all Office of Coast Survey bathymetry will make our data part of the public domain, safeguard the interests of external data providers, and aligns Coast Survey with the NOAA Data Strategy and federal policies that require government data to be as free, open, and accessible as possible.
The Marine Chart Division made significant progress toward completing the full transition to electronic navigational charts. In 2022 alone, the division published more than 4,600 electronic navigational chart updates.
The Precision Marine Navigation program expanded coverage to the Port of New York and New Jersey.
These are just a few accomplishments in 2022, and I’m confident we’ll have more to celebrate in 2023. Part of this confidence stems from two major pieces of legislation which passed just before Christmas:
The FY23 National Defense Authorization Act includes many provisions relevant to NOAA and Coast Survey. Two elements which are particularly important are the formal establishment of the “Brennan Matching Fund” administered by the Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping team, and official designation of “Brennan Reef” in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Both actions honor our friend and former director, Rear Admiral Richard T. Brennan.
The full-year FY 2023 omnibus appropriation passed by Congress and signed by the President has good news for Coast Survey. It maintains level funding for our base program and our hydrographic survey contracts. We are working through the details – but the most exciting provisions include funding for our partners in NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations to award a contract for two “Class B” mapping vessels to replace 55-year old Rainier and Fairweather, and $10 million for Coast Survey to establish a new “NOAA Center of Excellence for Operational Ocean and Great Lakes Mapping.” We expect that this new Center will complement the Joint Hydrographic Center in collaboration with Ocean Exploration and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.
These increases demonstrate that our partners and Congress appreciate the importance of our work, and I am grateful for that support. I’m looking forward to more in-person meetings in FY 2023 with our partners, colleagues on the Hill, and within NOAA. A few examples of our planned activities:
In February we will follow the momentum of the fall Hydrographic Services Review Panel meeting, which will be hosted in Puerto Rico with a focus on navigation services in the Caribbean region.
In the spring, I plan to visit our Alaska stakeholders.
Coast Survey will continue to stand up the Precision Marine Navigation program, and work cross-NOAA to spotlight uncrewed systems achievements.
Also, be on the lookout this spring for our updated Strategic Plan for the next five years where we showcase the ways in which we will continue to deliver high-quality data, products, and remain industry leaders in navigational services.
I am proud of our accomplishments in 2022, and look ahead to the rest of 2023 with optimism. I remain honored to serve as Director and lead this team, and I look forward to what we’ll achieve together this year.
Rear Admiral Benjamin K. Evans
Director of NOAA Coast Survey
February 24th, 2023
Click here for the 2023 StoryMap of NOAA Hydrographic Surveys in Alaska.
NOAA Office of Coast Survey 222 West 7th Ave Box 43 / Room 552 Anchorage, AK 99513