NOAA 2000-R806
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani

Requested by Coast Guard, Tracy Arm, Alaska, chart was produced in record time.
Media are invited to tour ship and attend ceremony and reception.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has completed a new nautical chart of Tracy Arm, Alaska, in just seven months – the fastest time in which a nautical chart has ever been produced from survey to print, the agency said today. The chart, requested by the U.S. Coast Guard and cruise industry, will be unveiled during a private event with local officials on Saturday.

"We are very pleased that we've been able to turn this chart around in unprecedented time," said Capt. David MacFarland, director of the Office of Coast Survey, part of NOAA's National Ocean Service. "We've had a lot of people pulling together on this--aboard Rainier with its high-tech survey capabilities, at our survey data processing and quality-control facilities in Seattle, and at our chart making office in Silver Spring, Md. The end result will be a safer waterway in Alaska before the summer cruise season begins."

NOAA's National Ocean Service Office of Coast Survey produced the chart as part of a cooperative agreement with the 17th U.S. Coast Guard District's Alaska Small Passenger Vessel Task Force. In August 1999 the task force identified operational and safety measures that would reduce the risk of accidents in Alaskan waters, and recommended that a new hydrographic survey be conducted and chart produced of Tracy Arm.

Many small passenger vessels–50 to 100 ft.–typically sail in Alaska's more confined, unmarked and hazardous waters than the larger cruise ships, and at times are in areas where communications with the Coast Guard and other vessels are very limited or non-existent.

Using new computer technology that significantly increases the accuracy of nautical charts, the NOAA ship Rainier conducted the survey at the head of Tracy Arm in October. The ship carries a powerful server that enables it to process millions of data
points from the ocean floor to create 3-D models. These models, realistic renditions of the ocean floor, are used by surveyors to ensure that they have completely and accurately located all of the potential ocean floor dangers such as shipwrecks, rocks and shoals. This information is then used by NOAA chart makers to update the nautical charts.

The new survey data will be applied to Chart 17311 and printed in early May. The data is consistent with the last survey, which was done in 1997–no new obstructions were identified. The new chart will be printed in a larger scale than before, making it easier to read than the previous chart.

NOAA's nautical charts are produced by the Office of Coast Survey. Rainier is operated and managed by the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which consists of civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Corps, the nation's seventh service.