Military Saves the Day for Crater Lake Sonar Research
National Park Service News Release
Department of the Interior
Office of Communications
July 29, 2000
In 1886, while trying to map the bottom of Crater Lake for the first time, William Steel wrote in his journal, “How shall we launch the boat now that we have got it here?” One hundred fourteen years later, Natural Resource Chief Mac Brock was wondering the same thing. Until yesterday, July 28, Brock and others at Crater Lake National Park were struggling to find a way to move an 11,200 lb. research vessel from the rim of the caldera to the lake surface 1000 feet below. The boat and its sonar equipment are the critical tools to be used in a modern effort to precisely map the floor of Crater Lake, the nation’s deepest lake.
“We fell victim to the wildfires that have been cropping up all over the west,” Brock said. “We had contracted with a commercial helicopter company to move the ship last Monday [July 24], but before they could come they were called to fight fires in Montana and Nevada.”
The fire situation in the intermountain west only got worse as the days ticked by. By Wednesday, July 26, very high to extreme fire conditions had sparked over 27 new major fires in the west. “It became clear to us that all of the commercial helicopter companies would be tied up on those fires,” Brock said. “Our only hope of pulling this project off was to ask the military for help.”
And help they did! Yesterday, July 28, the U.S. Army Reserves from Company A 5th Battalion, 159 Aviation Regiment sent a Chinook CH47D helicopter with its pilot and crew to airlift the research boat into Crater Lake. “We are very grateful to the military,” said Park Superintendent Chuck Lundy. “Without their help we could not have conducted this valuable research project.”
The sonar mapping will continue for the next 5 to 6 days at Crater Lake National Park. Images from the project may be viewed on the Internet at http://tahoe.usgs.gov/craterlake/.
Contact(s): Mac Brock, Crater Lake National Park,, (541) 594-2211 ext. 600