NOAA 2002-R202
Contact: Kent Laborde
NOAA News Releases 2002
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Senator Smith Stresses Importance to Oregon Mariners

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is scheduled to replace the "Stonewall Banks" buoy this week, after stormy seas off the coast of central Oregon broke its mooring chains Nov. 28, 2001.

"The quick replacement of this buoy is a testament to our dedication to facilitating commerce, ensuring safe navigation and saving lives with hazardous weather warnings," said Commerce Secretary Don Evans. "The people who travel and fish off the Oregon coast can again enjoy the valued service it provides."

The three-meter round buoy, officially named Number 46050, is moored approximately 20 miles off the Oregon central coast. The data buoy collects and transmits hourly measurements for wind speed, direction and gusts, barometric pressure, wave height and period, and air and water temperature. It is one of 22 buoys off the continental U.S. Pacific Coast, and 69 in the entire marine observation network.

In a letter from Sen. Gordon H. Smith (Ore.) to Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, retired Navy VADM Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Sen. Smith requested speedy replacement, recognizing the importance of the buoy system for mariners. "Fishers up and down the Oregon coast rely heavily upon the real time at-sea information provided by the Stonewall Banks buoy when they decide whether it is safe to leave port to make a fishing trip," Smith noted.

"I want to thank Senator Smith for raising this important issue and stressing the urgency in deploying the repaired buoy as soon as possible," said Lautenbacher. "We share his concern for the safety of mariners along the Oregon coast and are working toward a speedy replacement of the buoy to ensure the smooth operation of weather forecasting services in the area."

According to NOAA's National Weather Service Director, retired general Jack Kelly, the buoy will be redeployed with its refurbished hull and sensors this week as weather permits with assistance from the Coast Guard Cutter Cowslip.

Efforts to recover the buoy began the day after it went adrift when its mooring chain broke 35 feet below the buoy during a storm. The buoy was recovered Dec. 2, 2001, 60 miles north of Newport, Ore., and repaired by technicians from the National Data Buoy Center, a part of NOAA's National Weather Service.

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