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Press Releases

May 23, 2006

David Hall, NOAA
(240) 393-8267

Christopher Rodney
USARPAC (Representing DoD)
(808) 438-2662


At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), assisted by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii, will use state-of-the-art ocean exploration technology to gather data about an underwater munitions disposal site off the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

During a two-week survey, set to begin May 28, scientists will search for military munitions and collect water, fish and sediment samples in and around the site, known as “Ordnance Reef,” on the leeward side of Oahu. NOAA will issue a report later this year that the DoD will use as the basis for an assessment of the potential safety and environmental risks associated with the presence of munitions, and to determine response actions that may be required.

“NOAA is a scientific agency dedicated to using the latest technologies to understand the oceans and atmosphere,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program. “NOAA will be working closely with local experts from the state of Hawaii and University of Hawaii to provide DoD and the public with high-quality scientific data about the Ordnance Reef munitions disposal site.”

During the Ordnance Reef survey, scientists aboard the NOAA research vessel Manacat will comb a five-square-nautical-mile area off Pokai Bay with sophisticated seafloor mapping and imaging equipment to determine the quantity and distribution of munitions. The survey team will deploy a remotely operated vehicle and specially trained scuba divers to closely examine any items of interest and to collect water, fish and sediment samples for analysis by the university and two independent laboratories. Although DoD explosives ordnance disposal personnel will be on hand to ensure the explosives safety of survey operations and personnel, and to identify munitions, they will not recover or destroy any munitions during the survey.

Following the survey, NOAA will, as necessary, update its nautical charts of the area to provide mariners with the best information available about the disposal site. NOAA nautical charts are available free of charge at

NOAA offices involved in the survey include the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program, NOAA Office of Coast Survey, NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA Office of Special Projects and NOAA Fisheries Service’s Pacific regional office. The Office of Coast Survey is the nation’s official nautical chart maker and authority on mapping U.S. ocean and coastal waters.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, over 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

On the Internet:

Click here to download maps of the Ordnance Reef survey area. All maps courtesy NOAA.

NOAA nautical chart 19361 of the Waianae area and other NOAA nautical charts may be downloaded at

Click here to view Ordnance Reef survey frequently asked questions.

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