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NOAA SHIP WHITING BEGINS ITS SEARCH FOR EGYPTAIR FLIGHT 990

NOAA Ship Whiting in Newport, Rhode IslandNovember 2, 1999 — The NOAA Ship Whiting today joined the search and recovery efforts off the coast of Nantucket Island for EgyptAir Flight 990. The Whiting left the naval base in Newport, Rhode Island, Monday evening where it refueled and replenished its supplies for the mission.

(Photo: Whiting in Newport, Rhode Island, naval base preparing to leave for its mission.) (Photo credit: Robert Chartuk, NOAA)

The ship began its operations around 4:30 a.m. EST using its sophisticated side-scan sonar (SSS) equipment to begin mapping the ocean floor in search of the downed aircraft. The ship specializes in locating seafloor submerged wrecks and obstructions to navigation.

Side-Scan SonarHoused 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.

Whiting:

  • 163-ft. hydrographic survey ship
  • Carries high speed side-scan sonar
  • Covers about 16 sq. miles every 24 hours, traveling at 10 knots
  • Carries two launches with side-scan sonar, tripling its production capacity
  • Under command of Lt. Cmdr. Gerd Glang, NOAA Commissioned Corps
  • Home ported in Norfolk, Va. Was working out of Delaware Bay at time of accident.

The Whiting is operated and managed by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, composed both of civilians and officers of the NOAA Corps, the nation's seventh uniformed service.

Deploying side-scan sonarBackground Information

SIDE SCAN SONAR

DYNAMICALLY FOCUSED MULTI-BEAM SIDE SCAN SONAR


NOAA'S OFFICE OF COAST SURVEY — The nation's official chartmaker.

NOAA LOCATES WRECKAGE ON OCEAN FLOOR AFTER TWA FLIGHT 800 DISASTER

Office of NOAA Corps
Rear Admiral Evelyn FieldsSince NOAA’s 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 NOAA’s mission, NOAANOAA Corp Seal 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.

Buoy


See real-time ocean information from a buoy near the crash site off the coast of Nantucket Island. This information comes from NOAA's National Data Buoy Center.

 

 

Contact Information

Media should contact Greg Hernandez, NOAA public affairs, in Washington, DC, at (202) 482-3091 or the main number at (202) 482-6090. Media can also contact the U.S. Coast Guard public affairs command center in Newport, Rhode Island, at (401) 841-9541, -9542, or -9580.