Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

3-1-2015

Embargo Date

9-1-2015

Abstract

The Surveying Coastal Ocean Autonomous Profiler (SCOAP) is a large catamaran marine autonomous surface craft (MASC) for unattended weeks-long, spatially explicit, multidisciplinary oceanographic water column profile sampling in coastal/estuarine waterbodies. Material transport rates/pathways, crucial to understanding these ecosystems, are typically poorly known. SCOAP addresses demanding spatiotemporal sampling needs and operational challenges (strong currents, open coastal sea states, complex bathymetry, heavy vessel traffic). Its large size (11-m length, 5-m beam) provides seaworthiness/stability. The average speed of 2.5 m s−1 meets the representative goal to traverse an 18-km transect, sampling 10 min at each of 10 stations 2 km apart, nominally 4 times daily. Efficient hulls and a diesel–electric energy system can provide the needed endurance. The U.S. Coast Guard guidelines are followed: lighting, code flags, the Automatic Identification System (AIS), and collision avoidance regulations (COLREGs)-based collision avoidance (CA) by onboard autonomy software. Large energy reserves obviate low-power optimization of sensors, enabling truly multidisciplinary sampling, and provide on-demand propulsion for effective CA. Vessel stability facilitates high-quality current profile observations and will aid engineering/operation of the planned winched profiling system, performance of an anticipated radar system to detect/track non-AIS vessels, and potential research-quality meteorological sensor operation. A Narragansett Bay test deployment, attended by an escort vessel, met design goals; an unattended open coastal deployment is planned for Rhode Island Sound. Scientific and operational strengths of large catamaran MASCs suggest they could be an important cost-effective complement to other sampling platforms (e.g., improved spatiotemporal coverage and resolution, extending farther inshore, with a broader range of sensors, compared to underwater gliders) in coastal/estuarine waters.

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