Marine Log

September 26, 2006

VT Halter to build NOAA SWATH

NOAA has announced that VT Halter Marine Inc. of Pascagoula, Miss., will complete the final design and build of a new Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull Coastal Mapping Vessel (SWATH CMV) for the agency.

NOAA exercised a $15 million option for the ship with VT Halter Marine, which also completed the vessel's preliminary design under a separate option.

The primary mission of the SWATH CMV will be to map the full seafloor in coastal areas for U.S, nautical charts. It will operate in waterways along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Caribbean Sea and Great Lakes, conducting basic hydrographic surveys of the seafloor using side scan and multibeam sonar technologies.

VT Halter Marine expects to deliver the SWATH CMV by the summer of 2008. The nearly 38-meter long vessel will be homeported at Fort Point in New Castle, N.H., and will replace the 40-year-old NOAA ship Rude. Locating the vessel at New Castle will significantly enhance coastal and ocean mapping research partnership opportunities with the NOAA Joint Hydrographic Center at the University of New Hampshire.

"The SWATH design is particularly suited to NOAA's mission to map the ocean floor, as it is less responsive to wave action than a mono-hull ship," said Rear Admiral Samuel P. De Bow Jr., director of NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. "Its reduced motion will result in more reliable acquisition of survey data, and its enhanced sea-keeping ability will make it a more efficient survey platform."

U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, who was instrumental in securing funds for the SWATH CMV, stated, "This vessel provides a cutting-edge platform for NOAA and UNH scientists and undergraduates to test new ocean mapping technologies and conduct hydrographic research in near coastal environments, previously inaccessible with traditional vessels. The SWATH ship will help to grow the already successful UNH-NOAA partnership and help UNH remain a national leader in oceanographic work."

"We are excited to build this first-in-class SWATH CMV for NOAA," said Boyd E. King, VT Halter Marine's chief executive officer. "It is always exciting to take a project from blueprint to blue water. The SWATH CMV will be the fifth NOAA vessel that VT Halter Marine will build in support of NOAA's active fleet replacement program."

Once operational, the new SWATH CMV will be operated, managed, and maintained by NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, composed of civilians and commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps, one of the nation's seven uniformed services. The SWATH will support the nautical charting mission of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey.