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NOAA SHIPS RUDE AND WHITING WRAP UP ROLE IN WRECKAGE SEARCH
July 23, 1999
The NOAA Ships Rude and Whiting completed their role in the search
for John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.
The ships used sophisticated sonar equipment to help pinpoint
the area where the Kennedy plane was found.
NOAA was requested by the U.S.
Coast Guard to aid in the search for the missing aircraft carrying
John F. Kennedy Jr.
NOAA Ships Rude and Whiting
NOAA, an environmental science
agency of the U.S. Department of
Commerce, is responsible for surveying coastal waters for
the production of the nations nautical
The NOAA hydrographic survey ships
Rude and Whiting
have been deployed to assist the Coast Guard in the search operations.
Both ships specialize in locating on the seafloor submerged wrecks
and obstructions to navigation using side-scan
sonar (SSS) technology. Housed in a small torpedo-shaped
bell called a fish, the SSS provides an accurate
acoustical image of the bottom extending up to 600 meters on
each side of the ship. The actual amount of bottom coverage acquired
by the SSS is dependent upon the depth of water, the towfish
height above the ocean bottom, and specific water characteristics.
During typical survey operations in depths between 10 and 60
meters, a 200-meter wide bottom swath can be examined as the
SSS fish is towed slowly astern. SSS creates a map-view image.
Differential Global Positioning System receivers use satellites
to position the ships within five meters (17 ft.); conductivity,
temperature and depth (CTD) probes determine sound velocity through
water to correct depth soundings.
Though both ships have the same primary
function, Rude and Whiting have differing characteristics. The
90-foot Rude carries a multi-beam sonar, which acquires a fan-shaped
swath of depth data from 40 sounding beams at once, 13 times
a second, and gives precision depths and positions over a narrower
swath. This technology creates a clearer picture than provided
by SSS, and is used to clarify significant objects picked up
by SSS. The 163-foot Whiting carries two survey launches equipped
with SSS, thereby tripling its production capacity. In addition,
Whiting carries a high-speed SSS system, enabling the ship to
operate at 10 knots instead of the four-five knots of Rude, and
cover about 16 sq. miles per 24 hours. Rude can cover about eight
sq. miles every 24 hours.
Corps Commander Sam De Bow was the hydrographer on scene
where search activities were conducted.
90-ft. hydrographic survey ship
Carries both side-scan sonar and multibeam sonar
Covers about eight sq. miles every 24 hours, traveling
at four to five knots
Under command of Lt. Cmdr. James Verlaque, NOAA Commissioned
Home ported in Norfolk, Va. Was working out of Montauk,
Long Island, at time of accident
163-ft. hydrographic survey ship
Carries high speed side-scan sonar
Covers about 16 sq. miles every 24 hours, traveling at
Carries two launches with side-scan sonar, tripling its
Under command of Lt. Cmdr. Gerd Glang, NOAA Commissioned
Home ported in Norfolk, Va. Was working out of Delaware
Bay at time of accident.
Rude and Whiting are operated and managed by the Office of NOAA
Corps Operations, composed both of civilians and officers of
the NOAA Corps, the nations seventh uniformed service.
Click on image to view larger
size. (1.6 M)
Office of NOAA Corps
NOAAs beginning, a large percentage of its oceanographic,
atmospheric, hydrographic, fisheries and coastal data has been
collected on NOAA
ships and aircraft. This fleet of platforms is managed and
operated by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, an office made
up of civilians and officers of the NOAA
Commissioned Corps (a uniformed service of the United States).
In addition to research and monitoring activities critical to
NOAAs mission, NOAA ships
and aircraft provide immediate response capabilities for unpredictable
events, such as recovery and search efforts after the TWA Flight
800 crash, damage assessment after major oil spills such as the
Exxon Valdez, Persian Gulf War and New Carissa, and several major
hurricanes during the 1998 season.
Rear Admiral Evelyn
Fields is the director of the NOAA Corps.
LOCATES WRECKAGE ON OCEAN FLOOR AFTER TWA FLIGHT 800 DISASTER
NOAA'S OFFICE OF
The nation's official chartmaker.
Media should contact NOAA public
affairs headquarters in Washington, DC, at (202) 482-6060.
(Photos courtesy NOAA's Robert Chartuk)