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Royal Navy completes survey of Jersey waters

26 September 2016

New shipping charts for areas of Jersey waters are to be published following the completion of survey work by the Royal Navy.

HMS Gleaner spent three months here in Jersey waters and left on 18 September 2016 having made substantial improvements to the charting quality of the approaches to St Helier.

The work focused on North West, Middle, South and Eastern Passages, although there was also brief visit to Les Ecrehous. Although there were only a few changes to the main channels, there were discoveries of many shoal areas which had not been accurately charted close outside these areas. In such cases the data was passed to the UK Hydrographic Office and Jersey Coastguard, both of whom subsequently published warning Notices to Mariners. The work involved close liaison with Jersey Coastguard and the Jersey Field Squadron provided support and office accommodation for cleaning and analysing the information.

New chart edition

HMS Gleaner’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Marc Taylor, said “The waters off Jersey are an important training area for the Royal Navy. Future Navigators are put through their paces in the many passages that surround the Island. The charting quality ranges from 19th century lead line surveys, through to more modern of sonar equipment in the 1980s. However, using high resolution multibeam sonar images of the seafloor, together with precise positioning, HMS Gleaner has successfully provided a huge amount of data for updating local charts. This will provide greater confidence to Royal Navy ships when they visit. The data will also be used to update charts used by all mariners and it is expected that a new chart edition will be published for the approaches to St Helier in the near future.”

New high resolution images were also produced of German Second World War wreck SS Schokland. She was used to carry military cargo and troops between St Malo and the Channel Islands. She was carrying 284 troops and 26 crew when she struck Les Grunes Vaudin after leaving St Helier, with the loss of the lives of 110 German soldiers. The wreck was last surveyed in 1961 by wire sweep and charted as being at 10.1 m but the HMS Gleaner investigation shows that the superstructure appears to have subsided and she may be lying deeper than previously surveyed.

The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said “This is great work which we all much appreciate. My department will work with all interested parties to continue the efforts to establish a long-term hydrographic programme.”

HMS Gleaner has now returned to her home port of Devonport, where the data will be carefully processed, checked and then submitted to the UK Hydrographic Office before new charts are published.

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