GVSU education vessel receives new radar, weather equipment

A touchscreen in the wheelhouse of the D.J. Angus education and research vessel.
The D.J. Angus begins the 2017 education and research season with new hardware on board.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts
The new HD radar and weather station atop the D.J. Angus
The new HD radar and weather station atop the D.J. Angus
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts
A panel of switches on the D.J. Angus
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts
The D.J. Angus at its dock in Grand Haven, Michigan.
The D.J. Angus
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

Grand Valley's Grand Haven-based education and research vessel, the D.J. Angus, is kicking off the 2017 summer research season with new hardware that enhances the vessel's education and research abilities.

The boat underwent the upgrades during the winter off-season to bring on-board equipment up to the same standard as the Angus' sister boat, the W.G. Jackson which is located in Muskegon Lake at the Annis Water Resources Institute.

The updated equipment includes camera safety systems, an integrated touchscreen display for navigation, high-definition radar systems, Automated Identification System (AIS) and new digital weather sensors. The equipment enhances the educational mission of the boat, which is primarily used for K-12 outreach education programs. The radar, navigation and camera updates enhance ease of operation and safety. 

"We replaced analog equipment with digital equipment and made several improvements that enhance the efficiency and safety of the vessel," fleet captain Tony Fiore said. "It gives us access to navigation charts digitally instead of on paper, so the information is more accurate. It helps us with safety when we're under way."

Camera upgrades mean that the captain of the vessel can see, in real-time, what's happening in all areas of the boat from the wheelhouse, including inside the engine room and on the back research deck. Having that information helps in case of emergency, Fiore said.

Navigation is also greatly improved, as a community data-sharing program provides all vessels that use the Raymarine system with crowd-sourced depth information rather than charts which can become outdated with time.

Even though the boat mainly serves AWRI's educational outreach program, these upgrades also mean that should a researcher need to use the D.J. Angus instead of the W.G. Jackson the instrumentation and data collection systems are similar. The new weather sensors digitally track wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, temperature and more.

For more information on the Annis Water Resources Institute, visit gvsu.edu/wri.