NOAA 2004-R810
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani

NOAA News Releases 2004
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While conducting hydrographic surveys to update the area’s nautical charts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Rude (pronounced Rudy) discovered a sunken vessel in Narrangansett Bay that poses a serious danger to navigation.

The wreck, found on April 26 on the southeast side of Prudence Island, was investigated today by Rude’s divers, but the name and type of vessel could not be determined. The vessel appears to have had wooden planking; it is covered with sea growth and is in an advanced state of deterioration. It is 118 ft. long and 23 ft. wide. Preliminary survey data indicate a least depth of 36 feet in an area transited by deep-draft ships drawing up to 45 ft. The area was last surveyed in 1949.

As part of its mission to conduct surveys needed to update the nation’s coastal waterways, the 90-foot Rude is using its highly sophisticated sonar systems to chart the bay. Increased marine traffic has made it especially important to use modern hydrographic survey techniques to accurately portray the sea floor. Rude’s three types of sonar — single beam, side scan, and multi-beam — not only locate and determine least depths, but also identify contacts on the sea floor by producing picture-like images. Rude is also checking charted sounds and features within the survey area to make sure they are depicted correctly on the existing chart.

Rude began operations out of Newport, R.I., on April 17, and is scheduled to continue work in the area through the end of May.

NOAA provides any new information about navigational hazards to the U.S. Coast Guard to include in its local Notice to Mariners, to ensure the safety of large-draft vessels transiting the area and entering the port.

Conducting these hydrographic surveys will enable safe navigation for container ships, cruise ships, and large tankers that can draw up to 45 feet. Rude’s work is vital to the protection of shorelines from contamination as well as to the economy of various fisheries, where pollution from any grounding source would adversely affect the livelihood of nearby communities.

As part of the NOAA fleet of research ships and aircraft, Rude is operated and managed by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations, composed of civilians and NOAA commissioned officers. The NOAA Corps is a uniformed service of the United States, composed of officers — all scientists or engineers — who provide NOAA with an important blend of operational, management and technical skills that support the agency’s programs at sea, in the air, and ashore. Rude is homeported in Norfolk, Va., and commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Tod Schattgen, NOAA Corps.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit

For more information about Rude, please see

NOTE TO EDITOR: A sonar image (jpeg) of the wreck is available upon request from the contact above.