RUDE is the smallest ship in NOAA's fleet.
But it packs a wallop when it comes to national press. Under
the direction of then Commander (now
Captain) Sam DeBow, the RUDE located the wreckage
of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996. Almost exactly three years later,
under the command of Lieutenant Commander James Verlaque, the
RUDE found John F. Kennedy Jr.'s downed aircraft
off the Massachusetts coast.
Last year, the little ship helped make sure that the largest-ever
assembly of U.S. and foreign ships could safely transit New
York Harbor. RUDE surveyed the harbor and approaches
to it, ensuring that National
Ocean Service chart makers could update critical navigation
charts in record time.
RUDE then represented NOAA during the International
Naval Review, an inspection by the President of U.S. naval might.
Together with OpSail 2000, this event attracted historic
numbers of naval vessels and tall ships. And much to local surprise,
RUDE found six sunken vessels during its survey.
it's the day-to-day work of RUDE that makes it
such an essential part of NOAA's
fleet. Named for Captain
Gilbert T. Rude, inventor of the RUDE Star
Finder for locating celestial bodies, the ship surveys the Eastern
seaboard to find submerged wrecks, rocks and other underwater
navigation hazards. Once collected, this information is used
by NOAA chart makers to create the nautical tools so essential
to safe navigation. Huge oil tankers, cargo ships, Navy and
Coast Guard vessels, and small recreational boats all depend
on these charts to move safely along America's coastal waterways.
RUDE's technology has come a long way from the
lead lines once used by surveyors to determine the water's depth
at a single point. Today RUDE uses side
in which a small torpedo-shaped "towfish" is towed by the ship.
This towfish sends out sound energy and analyzes the return
signal which bounces off of the seafloor or a submerged object.
a side scan, the transmitted energy forms into the shape of
a fan that sweeps the seafloor from under the towfish to either
side, usually a distance of about 330 feet. The strength of
the return echo is continuously recorded, creating a "picture"
of the ocean bottom where protruding objects create a dark image.
Shadows from these objects create light areas.
essential is depth information. This data comes from RUDE's
multi-beam sonar, which also provides fan-shaped coverage of
the seafloor. But not in the form of images. Rather than continuously
recording the strength of the return echo, the multi-beam system
measures and records how long it takes an acoustic signal to
travel from a transmitter to the seafloor or submerged object
and back to the receiver. And this system is mounted on the
ship's hull, not towed.
Just days after Lieutenant Commander Andrew Beaver of the NOAA
Corps took command of the RUDE on March 9, a reporter
went aboard to observe surveys being conducted along Maryland's
Chesapeake Bay. Quoting the new commander, the reporter called
RUDE small but mighty, and always willing to go the
Aboard the RUDE (from left): Captain Sam DeBow, Chief
of Hydrographic Surveys Division, National Ocean Service; Rear
Admiral Evelyn Fields, Director of Office of Marine and Aviation
Operations and NOAA Corps; Captain Ted Lillestolen, Deputy Assistant
Administrator, National Ocean Service.
2000 - View
from the RUDE deck.