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Sailors on Jetskis


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Ahem, my error. Sailors on Expeditionary Survey Vessels. 

LCAC Launches Fleet Survey Team for the First Time

(Source: US Navy; issued Oct 15, 2014)

To the uninitiated, this looks like a jetski being readied at a marina. In fact, according to the US Navy, it is an “Expeditionary Survey Vessel” being unloaded into the water from Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) 29 assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7 “to perform a hydrographic survey” of a beach. (US Navy photo) SULU SEA, Philippines --- Expeditionary Survey Vessels (ESV), assigned to the Fleet Survey Team (FST), launched from a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) for the first time Oct. 9 during Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX 15).

The ESVs were launched from LCAC 29, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, in the Sulu Sea. They were tasked to conduct a hydrographic survey of a beach at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).

"This is something that has never been done before and we provided the LCAC community with another mission that we can accomplish," said Senior Chief Gunner's Mate Thomas Alex, assigned to NBU 7. "LCACs are hands down the most versatile craft that the Navy has and what we did today was proof just how versatile they are."

Hydrographic surveys provide mission-critical information by measuring water depths and by creating an accurate map of the sea floor to support shore landings during amphibious operations.

"We have deployed from a Landing Craft Utility before and we have deployed from the well deck, but we have never had the opportunity to deploy from an LCAC," said Lt. j.g. Mike Adamski, assigned to FST. "It was a safe and successful evolution, so I believe that they will include this in future operations."

The data that was collected will be studied by the U.S. Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for use in future amphibious operations.

"I operated one of the ESVs and it was a really good experience," said Aerographer's Mate 3rd Class Annette Rose, assigned to FST. "The ESVs map the ocean floor through the use of a single beam sonar and a side scan sonar. We lower those into the water and then we have the heads up display that captures the data."

NBU 7 and the FST conducted their operations from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), which is part of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, currently participating in joint forces exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

"We are the only command that can actually do this and it excites me to know that the data that I helped collect will be processed on a chart that will be used in the future," said Rose. "We had a successful mission and that was because of the hard work and planning from Germantown, NBU 7 and the FST."


Now that's a good idea.

Outside of harbours, the close inshore waters of say, less than 2 or 3 meters in depth are probably the least well charted because no one would normally even think of operating that close to shore with large boats or ships. But when you are carrying out a beach landing, there may be some surprises in there that you would prefer to find in an other manner than the hard way.
Yes it can sure beat sending in swimmers, although might not work out so well in a contested landing zone. But in general a good idea marrying existing tech to expand a needed capability.

I did send this story to a contact in the Canadian Hydrographic Survey, they might make sense for supporting further mapping in the arctic where shallow water is quite common.