International Dredging Review

International Dredging Review

In April 2009 the Port of Seattle will take delivery of a new Ross Laboratories Inc. Model 960 survey system. The system will replace the port’s 950 Surveyor which has been in use since 2002. The Model 960 adds side scan and sub-bottom profiling to the Port’s surveying capabilities.

The Port of Seattle is a deep water port centered on Elliott Bay which has a general depth of 600 feet. Around the perimeter of the bay are several container terminals and commercial and pleasure boat marinas. Although there are no river or dredged channels leading into the bay the depth in and around each of the terminals must be constantly monitored and kept clear to accommodate the draft of the large vessels that call every day.

Port surveyors used the Ross Model 950 all-in-one survey system for hydrographic surveys in and around the terminals and piers. The new 960 will add side scan and sub-bottom capability to their routine survey work. This will allow them to make quick assessments of debris that could impede the safe docking of a vessel.

The new 960 survey system is undergoing final manufacture and testing at the Ross Laboratories Inc. plant in Seattle. Each new 960 undergoes rigorous checkout in the shop and then for a final on-the-water checkout on the company’s research vessel Golden Dolphin. There is no better way to test a system than put it to use in the real world on a boat. This will often lead to a final adjustment or internal setting of a control that cannot be duplicated on a manufacture’s test bench. Seattle’s Lake Union home port of the Golden Dolphin has many sunken boats barges and other interesting targets that make a perfect place to test a side scan.

Ross Labora­tor­ies’ new side scan system is offered as a stand alone system or as an add-on module for the 960 Sur­veyor. It is a new addition to the company’s line of
single- and multi-channel sound­ers. Another 960 system without the side scan option which can be added later was recently delivered to the USACE St Paul District for work on the Upper Mississippi River. Operating out of Fountain City Wisconsin the Corps personnel there maintain almost 300 miles of navigation channel using two Ross 4810 Channel Sweep Systems and the new 960 for small open boat portable work.

Ross Laboratories has been manufacturing marine electronics since 1953. Ross became involved in hydrographic survey in 1969 when along with NOAA and Digital Equipment Corp. they helped interface the first depth digitizer to an on-board computer. This new system was installed on the NOAA ship Whiting at Norfolk Virginia. Since then they have been a leader in the hydro survey field developing the first multi channel sweep system in 1977 and the first all in one survey system the Model 950 in 1997.


The Port of Seattle ranked 15th nationwide in terms of dollar value in 2008. Last year almost 39 billion dollars worth of goods passed over Seattle’s docks. These goods were carried in more than 1700000 container units onboard 1226 ships that entered Seattle harbor. The vessels came from all over the world and carried a wide variety of cargo. Food raw metals grain consumer electronics and airplane parts were just a few of the items imported or exported through the port.

During the last few years a growing cruise ship business sailed between Alaska and Seattle. Two hundred and ten cruise ships carried 800000 passengers over Seattle’s docks during 2008. A new cruise ship terminal will be in service this year to meet the growing travel industry.
The deep draft shipping traffic along with hundreds of commercial and private vessels that call Seattle home keeps port surveyors and maintenance people busy providing safe and attractive facilities for a wide variety of vessels.