NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler was built by VT Halter Marine Inc. in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The ship was commissioned on June 8, 2012 and is currently homeported in New Castle, New Hampshire. The ship primarily maps coastal waters to update nautical charts along the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler maps the ocean to aid maritime commerce, improve coastal resilience, and understand the marine environment. NOAA's Coast Survey uses data collected by the ship to create and update the nation’s nautical charts with ever-increasing data richness and precision.
The ship’s side scan sonar collects imagery of the sea floor, which can identify obstructions or wrecks that could be navigational hazards. The sonar emits sound waves in a swath, which generates a detailed image of objects on the seafloor.
To obtain accurate depth measurements (within 10 centimeters), the ship uses multibeam echo sounders. The bathymetric data can be converted into three-dimensional models to provide extremely accurate depths and detailed images of the sea floor and objects.
The 124-ft. Ferdinand R. Hassler is designed as a small waterplane area twin hull (SWATH) vessel for improved stability and seakeeping. The ship’s dry lab space is configured for hydrographic data acquisition and processing, and can be reconfigured to meet other scientific needs. The ship also has a dive locker with compressor and filling station. In addition to the installed equipment, the ship can also carry a 25 ft. survey launch/utility boat, or a 20 ft. science van, further extending the mission capabilities of this platform. An ample rear working deck served by a stern A-frame and knuckle boom crane provide maximum mission flexibility.
The ship is one of NOAA’s most valuable assets following a severe weather event or ocean emergency. Even before she was officially commissioned in 2012, the ship was deployed in response to a U.S. Coast Guard request for assistance following Hurricane Irene. The ship conducted hydrographic surveys around the clock in Hampton Roads, Virginia, applying its state-of-the-art assets to looking at seafloor changes, searching for underwater hazards that would pose a danger to ships, and helping to restore port operations to its full capacity.
Ferdinand R. Hassler was named for Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, a visionary scientist who planned the Survey of the Coast after President Jefferson signed the enacting legislation in 1807. Hassler became the first superintendent of Coast Survey, serving until his death in 1843.