Inquiry for the Ferdinand Hassler

Good afternoon Mr. Lambert,

We did acquire multibeam echosounder ( data over the wreck as well as the area around Boon Island and Boon Island Ledge. Since the wreck is in relatively deep water the digital terrain model (DTM) of the wreck is not as impressive as side scan sonar imagery. Although we could tow side scan over the wreck we probably will not since it is already well known, its position well charted, and we are avoiding towing the side scan where there are lobster trap buoys. I can’t remember the trap concentration around the wreck but we will probably avoid that for our upcoming operations to finish our work in the area.

We still need to process our data more thoroughly, if the multibeam imagery looks interesting I will forward to you.

LCDR Marc S. Moser, NOAA
Commanding Officer
NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler (S-250)
ship’s cell: (603) 812-8748
Land line: (603) 431-4500

Current track for the Ferdinand Hassler

Screenshot 2014-04-28 08.00.59Click to enlarge

That is Boone Island around which the  Ferdinand Hassler  is surveying, the area includes the resting place of the Empire Knight.  It is possible the Empire Knight sailed from Nova Scotia in 1944 after undergoing repairs from a torpedo strike. This was a comment I located on the web, I have not checked it out .

What a beautiful day !

087580pvBoone Island Light


A mission suggestion for the Ferdinand Hassler

This should be interesting, I was working on a post about the sinking of the Empire Knight and  just peeked at the Hassler on AIS  She is indeed working the wreck!


They are having  a busy weekend.

I had wondered about this wreck of late. Seacoast online publishes a great deal of Maine news. A few months ago we had a story about  elevated mercury in lobsters and the shutdown of a lobster fishery in Maine. So when I saw the Hassler doing sand surveys yesterday I was going to call the Hassler team to suggest going North to make some  news.

Screenshot 2014-04-27 14.23.43(2)


NOAA made international headlines this week when they released a side scan sonar photo of a wreck in San Francisco Bay. The wreck was located last year just inside the Golden Gate . I really was not that impressed with the image of the City Of Chester ,but it sank  in 1888 in a tragic accident with 16 lost.

I almost purchased a new toy for the boat  this season a new sonar from Raymarine called the Dragonfly, but the size of the transducer threw me a bit. It still may happen but I can wait. This Dragonfly can image wrecks  at significant depth.

Maybe try and “see” the locomotive on the bottom of Portsmouth Harbor, or go try and image the Empire Knight.

In 1990 the US Coast Guard got hold of the manifest of the Empire Knight a British Merchant ship that wrecked and discovered it was carrying a load of casks containing mercury. The area of the wreck is off limits to fisherman and divers. An inspection  found that many casks had deteriorated and the mercury gone.

24 British sailors drowned on February 11, 1944 when the Empire Knight hit a ledge near Boone Island. It was bound for New York City.


There was a treasure hunter that once proposed salvaging the mercury and some spools of wire. The plan was not approved due to unstable nature of the casks. There is approximately 16,000 lbs of mercury still located in the stern holds of the vessel.

It’s deep, lying at 260ft here is a sonar image taken by a NH firm. I hope the Hassler can release their images soon from the survey  which is underway as I type this post.

gal_empireknight2_newOn L-3’s web site this undated scan was labeled as a training exercise with a new towed device. There does not appear to me to be significant sediments covering the wreck. This was a hope of those that examined the wreck in 1990. The stern of the Empire Knight is I think, hanging off a ledge.

Honestly, I hope the Hassler does a complete survey so one can better understand the position of the ship.

If you are interested  in reading more material I have the empire_knight(3)  NOAA Risk Assessment. The document goes into great detail. I have a lobster maybe two times a Summer, and it’s usually coupled with a trip by boat to Chauncey Creek. The Maine problem with elevated mercury in lobsters (in a specific area) is caused by a land based plume from an abandoned manufacturing site.

I  read this week that the Maine lobster fishery may be going into a slide, due to natural fluctuations. “It was bound to happen ” one fellow said “after so many years of bounty” . The lobster has a long cycle.

I am glad the Ferdinand Hassler is scanning the wreck, it seems to me a prudent use of sailing time .





night owl

I was awakened at 2am by a Barred Owl or as is commonly known a hoot owl. I was really unsure as to what I was hearing, it was a bit eerie and a new resident for our woods. I have never heard one out back.

The Barred Owl recording above is typical and had me wide awake.

“Who cooks for you ?”

It was really nice to listen to him.

So I was up and it’s time to get back to writing, especially with boating season drawing near.


????????This is the Ferdinand Hassler a NOAA survey ship  and it’s home port is New Castle, NH.

It is a brand new vessel for the survey fleet with a catamaran design. The keel was laid in 2007 and the vessel had some issues during it’s construction relative to it’s draft. I bookmarked that article some time ago. I was very surprised when this vessel showed up on the Seacoast  and have been checking the AIS site from time to time to see when she would begin her local mission. It was designed for the Great Lakes and the Gulf so perhaps sea state is critical for a good survey when operating in the North Atlantic.

NOAA had an issue with  the deadweight of the vessel  and pulled it from one shipbuilder and had another complete the job. The complete story can be read on the link below.

So the owl  had me up and I checked on the Hassler and guess what! She was busy this morning off Hampton/ Seabrook. She has been tied up at the dock in New Castle since the Fall.

Screenshot 2014-04-25 05.08.19click to enlarge screen shot taken early this am.

 The blue ship icon is the  tug  Peggy Winslow of  Portland ME headed for the Merrimack River, it is now stopped just outside of Newburyport. There are several tugs engaged in the Whittier Bridge project . Initially given the tugs location I thought there might be a tow being set up.

The  survey pattern that the Hassler is executing  is interesting to me since reading the news about Seabrook Station today, but perhaps the Hassler is just checking it’s systems before the start of the survey season.

Lean in.

A seismic danger is one thing for sure, but there are Nuclear plants on Lake Michigan that are struggling with low water levels at their intakes, today. This is a very serious issue and it affects the National grid, all of us.

  Nuclear plants cannot be sucking air. If there is not enough water over the intake head pressure must be reduced, this means the plant is not operating at peak efficiency.

“Just move the intake”

“We are talking about billions”

I have a mission for the Hassler that would be very interesting as long as it’s nosing around the inshore areas.

More later.


PS  I was discussing the transition in America from draft horses with my Aunt(92) who added “You know our first refrigerator was delivered by horse and wagon in E. Boston.”


“The Coast Survey Research Vessel Bay Hydro II will survey critical areas in central Chesapeake Bay. The NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler will survey a possible wind turbine site in the approaches to the Bay. Before Hassler does that, however, it will survey off the coast of Portsmouth, N.H., to acquire data that will contribute to habitat mapping and to the state’s effort to locate sand resources for beach replenishment.

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and NRT5 will survey in Long Island Sound, in support of the multiyear, multistate, multi-agency Seafloor Mapping Initiative. Thomas Jefferson also will perform Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy recovery work.

Finally, Thomas Jefferson and Hassler will survey an area offshore of Rhode Island Sound to identify a safe route for deep draft oil tankers. The area is also a potential site for wind turbines.”