NOAA ship returns from buoy-fixing mission
A federal ship returned to its home port of Honolulu this week after repairing tsunami- and climate-monitoring devices along the equator, its commander said yesterday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel, the Kaimimoana, serviced a deep-ocean tsunami-monitoring buoy some 2,400 miles southeast of Hawaii during its trip.
The device is one of 10 across the Pacific that has pressure sensors on the sea floor to detect seismic waves moving across the open ocean. Federal tsunami warning centers in Hawaii and Alaska monitor the data.
The buoy repaired on the most recent mission is important for its ability to collect and transmit data about tsunami heading north from South America.
The Kaimimoana also repaired and inspected 13 moorings that collect data on ocean temperatures.
Known as the Tropical Atmospheres Oceans Project moorings, they are designed to help scientists understand and predict when surface ocean temperatures rise or fall to produce El Nino and La Nina.
NOAA and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology jointly maintain a network of more than 70 TAO buoys in the Pacific.
Weather and fishing may damage their sensors, so NOAA needs to regularly check them to see if they need repairs. Their batteries also must be replaced once a year.
Twenty-three crewmembers joined 10 scientists from Oregon State University and Maine's Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences on the Kaimimoana's latest mission.
The vessel spent close to six weeks at sea, punctuated by a two-day stop in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.
The first six Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami buoys were deployed by the United States in the Pacific in October 2002.
After the Dec. 26 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the Bush administration announced a $37.5 million plan to increase the number of the buoys under U.S. control to 38, NOAA officials have said.