The Hi‘ialakai is dedicated to conducting coral reef ecosystem mapping, assessment and monitoring in the U.S. Pacific Island areas. The ship conducts benthic habitat mapping and coral reef research and is equipped with two multibeam echosounders that can survey down to 3,000 meters. Towed camera sleds can also be deployed from the vessel and a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) will be installed onboard in 2006. The Hi‘ialakai has been equipped to transport the R/V AHI to remote areas where it can be deployed for map shallow waters where the ship cannot operate safely.
The Hi‘ialakai is equipped with two Kongsberg Maritime multibeam sonars, a 30 kHz EM300, which can survey effectively to depths of 3000 m, and a 300 kHz EM3002, which can survey effectively to depths of 150 m. Positioning and attitude data are provided by an Applanix POS-MV position and orientation sensor. Data collection is performed using an SAIC ISS-2000 (PDF) data acquisition and survey control system. Although the Hi‘ialakai and the AHI have different sonars the rest of the suite of survey equipment is the same. This allows a surveyor that has been trained on one system to rapidly become expert on the other platform and, thus, reduces the training required to effectively utilize both survey systems.
The ship’s sonar systems were extensively tested during sea trials (pdf) conducted in San Francisco during February 2005. In April 2005 the ISS2000 system was installed and tested (PDF) immediately prior to the first mapping cruise. During the 2005 field season PIBHMC personnel conducted mapping operations on five of the ship’s eight cruises. PIBHMC is also responsible for processing the ship’s mapping data.