Operations of the Rude and the Heck
By Raymond Wilcove, Chief of Public Information, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce
Sixty-five years ago, the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey solved a problem which had for many years posed a threat to safe navigation. This was the failure to detect many underwater dangers through the standard methods of hydrographic surveying.
The solution to the problem was the development of the wire drag. This, of course, has been refined to the point where it provides the most efficient method for locating underwater hazards. Previous to this, however, the universal method for making hydrographic surveys was with a lead line from a moving vessel. This procedure often failed to locate underwater obstructions such as pinnacle rocks, boulders, sharp ledges, coral formations, and wrecks.