MTS Buoy Workshop – From Down Under to North Carolina

August 16, 2019

In April, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) hosted the first “MTS International Buoy Workshop” at its marine labs in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Much like Buoy Workshops of the past, the meeting brought together; science, engineering and technical staff engaged in mooring design and operations to discuss their work and share challenges.  As Hobart is the gateway to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, the theme of the event was: “Buoy Technology for Extreme Environments”.


The “Buoy Workshop” has been a bi-annual meeting that was initially funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) under the auspices of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) for many decades with direction from Dr. Walter Paul (WHOI, now deceased).  Our first “formal” meeting was held in San Diego, CA back in 1996, we have continued to meet since every two-years at (or near) a host facility that is engaged in buoy technologies in some capacity on a variety of different projects and programs; Federal, academic or private, we all work together. 

The Mission

The Buoy Workshop’s mission is to foster technology and experiences in the highly specialized field of oceanographic and peripheral data buoy systems. This is done by taking advantage of an informal environment to focus on speaker presentations, discussions and exchanges for the benefit of all attendees.  Reports on successes and failures are discussed. The workshop has become a focused gathering for researchers, scientists, engineers, buoy system technologists, and students worldwide where they can exchange updates on their work and progress.  Rick Cole of RDSEA International, Inc. (St Pete Beach, FL) and Don Peters of WHOI (Woods Hole, MA) now Chair the meeting and are moving it forward onto the next and new horizons.

We have a broad and vast coverage of many different buoy designs, styles and reasons for deploying; from large basin scaled, deep-ocean monitoring systems to small port, harbor and coastal designs that usually all have similar tasks of sending critical data back to the beach.  When we have success, we discuss it, when we fail, we discuss it, which hopefully leads us back to success.  The group continues to change and grow, and buoys continue to be deployed. 

Hobart Workshop

Now, coming off our 13th meeting, and our first “International” meeting (we did meet in Victoria, British Columbia, in 2010, but it was not planned as an International setting). CSIRO was the perfect host with amazing hospitality and outstanding efforts within the buoy technology realm. With our theme of: “Buoy Technology for Extreme Environments” our colleagues in the Southern Hemisphere have their challenges cut out for them.  Andreas Marouchos, our meeting Co-Chair and “boots-on-the-ground” in Hobart and at CSIRO is a lead engineer at the agency and a long-time attendee and supporter of the workshop.  His team at CSIRO did an amazing and outstanding job at getting the meeting set up, run on course and on schedule.  Dr. Kathleen Herndon, MTS Executive Director and Kristina Norman, MTS Deputy Executive Director and Director of Events supported all efforts from the U.S.

The meeting was well attended with delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, and the US, and managed to bring together many participants who had not previously attended a Buoy Workshop.  A diverse set of presentations lead to lively discussion during the panel sessions with a lead-off welcome by Andreas Schiller; Science and Deputy Director, Oceans and Atmosphere; CSIRO and updates on the “Australian Integrated Marine Observing System” (IMOS) were given. 

The meeting format is broken up into sessions over the course of 2.5 – 3 days, with 4 – 6 presentations per session.  Panel discussions continue after each session completes. Each talk within a session has commonality such as instruments and sensors, numerical modeling and simulation, measuring waves, mooring design and technologies, offshore operations, security and energy-generating buoy systems to name a few. An Ice-Breaker reception on the Monday evening before the meeting starts to get us going. 

Manufactures of buoy system components and instrumentation exhibit at the workshop and also sponsor some of the events throughout the week.  This year’s sponsors were: EdgeTech, IMOS, MetOcean Services International (MSI), and CSIRO.  DSA Pacific (Victoria, BC) also hosted a well-attended modelling workshop prior to the start of the meeting.  2019 Exhibitors:  IMOS, MetOcean Services International, EdgeTech, Nortek, DSA, Mooring Systems, Inc., DeepWater Buoyancy, BlueZone Group, RTSys, and CSIRO.

MTS President, Dr. Rick Spinrad, attended his first Buoy Workshop and opened day two of the meeting with a presentation on the “Future of Ocean Observations”.  The workshop was punctuated with a gala dinner at a local Hobart restaurant featuring Australian cuisine, and site tours of various CSIRO labs. The IBW-2019 organizers would like to thank all the participants and sponsors of this year’s very successful event. 

Buoy Workshop 2020

We are in the process of organizing our third meeting in a row, the MTS Buoy Workshop 2020, to be hosted by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the Coastal Ocean Research and Monitoring Program (CORMP), at the Ballast Hotel, downtown Wilmington, NC, April 13-16, 2020.

Author: Rick Cole, RDSEA International, Inc., Chair of the MTS Buoy Technology Committee


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