MGIS Student Kwanza Johnson Spends Week Aboard the NOAA Ship Rainier

From October 4-12, 2018, the NOAA Ship Rainier welcomed aboard three graduate students for a new seafloor Mappers-in-Training Program. USC Sea Grant recruited nearly 50 applicants from around the United States, and Kwanza Johnson (Kent State University; center), George Snyder (University of California, Davis; left) and Sky Smith (University of California, Santa Cruz; right) were selected for the internship.

The interns spent 9 days mapping the seafloor around the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, gaining experience in making seafloor maps using multibeam sonar (sound navigation and ranging) systems and processing multibeam data.

The interns contributed in a significant way to NOAA’s ocean and coastal mapping mission and gained an understanding of how seafloor maps are used to make informed decisions about our coastal and ocean resources to support the U.S.’s blue economy.

The interns quickly became integrated into the daily operations and participated in survey acquisition, ship operating procedures, and data processing. Each day, at least one intern was assigned to a survey launch where they learned how to run the multibeam sonar, acquisition software, and take CTD measurements (conductivity, temperature, and depth).

In addition, they were given a small survey sheet of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara. The bathymetry of this pier is of particular interest to the Rainier’s Commanding Officer, CDR Ben Evans, as a potential docking location. This assignment gave the interns ownership over the survey process and helped them better understand the effort required to collect, process and finalize seafloor data. The survey will be used to assess the most current depths of the pier to determine if the ship can safely dock there.

The importance of partnerships was highlighted throughout the internship and was underscored as vital to the successful planning and execution of Rainier’s mission to fill information gaps about benthic resources inside the Sanctuary.

This program was funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Coast Survey (OCS), Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), and conducted in partnership with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Pacific OCS Region.

This original posting, quotes, and pictures from the experience can by found at

POSTED: Monday, November 26, 2018 - 1:52pm
UPDATED: Monday, November 26, 2018 - 1:55pm
University of Southern California Sea Grant Program