U.S. Coast Guard Recovers Adrift PacIOOS Wave Buoy

The U.S. Coast Guard has recently recovered a drifting PacIOOS wave buoy 800 nautical miles offshore from its original location off Tanapag, Saipan.

Photo: PacIOOS

The buoy that broke free from its mooring in 20 to 25-foot seas when Super Typhoon Yutu directly hit the Mariana Islands, drifted west in the Philippine Sea.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ‘Sequoia’ (WLB 215), stationed in Guam, retrieved the buoy using the installed crane and hydraulic equipment, and transported it back to Guam.

PacIOOS maintains a network of 15 wave buoys, three of which are located within the Mariana Islands (off Ipan and Ritidian Point, Guam, and off Tanapag, Saipan). All wave buoys provide real-time information on wave height, period, and direction, as well as sea surface temperature.

The freely available data are crucial for federal and local agencies, as well as for commercial and recreational ocean users, PacIOOS explained.

Roger Edson, Science and Operations Officer at the NWS Forecast Office Guam, said, “We rely on a multitude of satellite data for issuing forecasts and advisories, but satellites only indirectly determine important ocean parameters. The PacIOOS wave buoys are our only routine source of directly measured nearshore ocean observations, allowing us to calibrate the satellite-derived ocean data.

“Waves can change dramatically in time and location so it is vital to have buoys in good strategic locations around the islands in order to be able to see approaches from all directions and ensure a 360 degree view.”