There has been considerable interest over the past week from Marine Traffic AIS users – including ourselves - on the activities of two marine survey ships around the Mull of Kintyre and between South Kintyre and Islay, up to Colonsay.
One is the Northern Lighthouse Board’s Pole Star and the second is Ocean Star, which is operated by MMT/NetSurvey.
Watching their tracks [click on any ship icon and then click on 'Show vessel track'] within a common sea areas suggested that they were engaged on the same operation – and at one point we wondered, as did others, whether the Navy had lost some kit from a ship or a submarine. It does happen.
We asked the Northern Lighthouse Board [NLB] for information on the activity and they have let us know that they are currently participating in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency led and EU funded, INIS Hydro project. As the acronym indicates, this project covers Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The aim of this cross-border InterReg IVA project is to provide detailed seabed mapping in support of Safety of Life at Sea in areas which have not previously been mapped to modern standards.
Pole Star will be surveying an area off the Mull of Kintyre until 7th November.
The mapping of the Firth of Lorn by the Scottish Association of Marine Science [SAMS] at Dunstaffnage is part of the same project. This is also still ongoing and will improve knowledge of the local environment as a foundation to enhance future management of the marine environment.
NLB has, of course, no direct relationship with the Ocean Star but understands that she is operated by MMT/NetSurvey and currently contracted to the MCA under the Civil Hydrography Programme.
Reports on this ongoing programme – up to 2011 – can be found here on the UK Hydrographic Office website.
The MCA manages the project and has three contracts currently let:
- EMU Ltd – Shallow Water Lot
- NetSurvey Ltd – Shallow to Medium Water Lot
- MMT AB – Routine Resurvey contract
The last of these involves the Ocean Star and the work she is now engaged on in the waters off the east coast of Islay.