Research ship anchored off Birch Bay collecting data for nautical charts

Published on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Photo by Brad Otto


One of the world’s most technologically advanced floating nautical survey platforms has been anchored off Birch Bay for the past few weeks collecting data to update national nautical charts.

The Rainier, one of the research ships in the Pacific fleet of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), is in the middle of a mission collecting data to update NOAA’s nautical charts for the Strait of Georgia. Its work will eventually take it up the coast of Alaska.

The data will provide more information on the shoals in the vicinity of Cherry Point, which is the largest tanker port in Washington. This information will be helpful to the Puget Sound pilots who steer large tankers through the sound and the Strait of Georgia. The area has seen changes in vessel traffic recently due to the increased capacity of the facilities at Cherry Point, according to the NOAA website for the ship.

The Rainier, originally launched in 1967, is 231 feet long and weighs about 1,500 tons. It can house a total of 25 crew members and stay at sea for 22 days at a time. For more information on the Rainier, visit the ship’s website.