ADMIRALTY GULF, Australia – The Fleet Survey Team (FST) from Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, embarked on the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), completed hydrographic surveys of Lee Point Beach, Australia, July 20 – 22.
The hydrographic surveys were done prior to the Ashland’s arrival to Darwin Australia, to provide mission critical information about water depth levels, and help chart a map of the area to better optimize ship-to-shore landings during amphibious operations.
Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Kirk Todd, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, leading petty officer of the FST, says the main purpose of the FST is for the safety of fleet navigation.
“Hydrography is kind of the science of what we do and safety in that aspect,” says Todd. “It gives decision makers important information on water depth levels at port beaches so that they can safely land their troops where they need to for the mission.”
The evolution involved many moving parts such as meeting local subject matter experts who know the lay of the land and surveying a designated stretch of ocean one-mile long and 285 meters wide, resulting in approximately 57 miles of data.
LTJG Kyle Kausch, from DeFord Michigan, the officer in charge of the FST, says FST provides more than just hydrographic data.
“We provide bathometric support prior to the Marines launching, that way they know whether or not an LCU landing can be supported, whether an LCAC landing can be supported, and whether an AAV can drive up and down a beach,” said Kausch. “One of our mottos is that we find the bottom before you do.”
The data used by FST helps to update old hydrographic tools used to evaluate the safest location for an operation to take place, based on waters and topographic features. Surveys require periodic updates to maintain the most up-to-date information.
Kausch says being able to conduct surveys and contribute to the goal of the mission is only one piece of the job he enjoys.
“I absolutely love the camaraderie, it’s an unbelievable experience coming out here you get to talk to a lot of people.” said Kausch. “I’ve been able to launch and recover now from an LCU, an LCAC, from shore, and the side of a small tugboat, so you get to meet a lot of interesting people out here and different crews. It’s an absolute blast and I couldn’t find a better job in the Navy.”
Ashland departed from its homeport of Sasebo, Japan, June 3 and is assigned to the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.