Learn About The Work Of Hydrographer-In-Charge, Scott Youngblut

Scott Youngblut, Hydrographer-in-charge, during the Victoria Strait Expedition


Describe the moment when you found out that the vessel had been discovered..


I was called over the ship announcement speakers to my office aboard CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, which in itself is a typical occurrence.  When I arrived, the Chief Officer Rich Marriott closed the door behind me and asked me to surrender all of my satellite communications – I knew that was a protocol we had set-up in the event of a discovery – so he really did not even have to tell me that we had discovered the wreck.  I was astounded.  As one of the very first to find out the news, I also had the pleasure of witnessing the amazement of the rest of the crew when Captain Bill Noon gatherer all crew in the officer's lounge to make the announcement to the rest of the ships' complement.

Who is the first person you wanted to tell?


That's an easy one – my colleague Andrew Leyzack who had led similar projects in partnership with Parks Canada since 2008.  While I was fortunate enough to lead the CHS effort in 2014, I was always cognizant of my many colleagues who had worked hard in the search efforts that had come before.  As a matter of fact, the very first satellite call we made after the information embargo was lifted (along with Captain Noon) was to Andrew, the morning of the Prime Minister's announcement.

Can you describe a typical day for a hydrographer during the Victoria Strait Expedition?


The Canadian Hydrographic Service installed and operated multibeam sonar systems on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier (a new installation for 2014), the survey launches Kinglett and Gannet (deployed almost daily from the Laurier) as well as HMCS Kingston.   For 2014, the hydrographic team aboard Laurier was comprised of  6 CHS Hydrographers, the team was augmented by Canadian Coast Guard coxswains and the ship's quartermasters who were on duty onboard Laurier itself.  This group was able to collect data along a total of 4,600 line kilometres, which represents 460 square kilometres of fully mapped seabed.  Part of this work included expanding existing marine routes and ports to increase the safety margins for transiting ships.  Due to unfavourable ice conditions preventing the naval ship HMCS Kingston from safely entering the primary project area, the ship was instead re-tasked to the Eastern Arctic where it, along with her crew, undertook a focused effort to collect new sea bed data in an area of key importance for shipping safety.  In these efforts, 3 CHS hydrographers worked closely with the Royal Canadian Navy staff ultimately surveying 2,500 line kilometres, which represents 650 square kilometres of fully mapped seabed.  This achievement on the HMCS Kingston and her joint crew is extremely significant for all current and future Arctic mariners.

Can you explain how the technology was used to identify the Erebus?


The multibeam sonar - with the aid of a motion sensor and accurate GPS positioning - is capable of rendering a very detailed 3-dimensional model of the wreck. The model is in fact a 'point-cloud' with each point representing an individual 'ping' as we call them - from the multibeam sonar. With each subsequent pass over the wreck site by the Canadian Hydrographic Service launch equipped with the multibeam sonar - the point cloud increases in density and as a result, details and features become more readily identifiable. As Parks Canada archaeologists have indicated, this high precision model was critical in the identification of the wreck as HMS Erebus. The model was used to measure specific diagnostic features on the wreck that helped the archaeologist confirm the ship's identity.  The model will continue to be a valuable resource for the Parks Canada archaeologists going forward, as they will use it as a planning tool for future missions and as a 'foundation' as it were - to build their findings upon.

During the 2014 Victoria Strait expedition, Scott Youngblut was the Hydrographer-in-Charge with Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Canadian Hydrographic Service. As Hydrographer-in-charge, Youngblut was responsible for planning and leading the multi-disciplinary arctic mapping missions conducted aboard both the Coast Guard's CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier (using the launches CSL Kinglett and CSL Gannet) and the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Kingston.

Using state-of-the-art technologies, Youngblut and his dedicated team of experts scoured the arctic seabed to gather and analyze data regarding ocean depths and bottom topography – information that was also used to provide confirmation of the identity of HMS Erebus as the sunken ship along the ocean bottom located by Parks Canada's archaeologists in Queen Maud Gulf. During the expedition, Youngblut's highly trained team collected substantial amounts of bathymetric, topographic and tidal information to contribute directly to navigational charts and the enhancement of marine safety in Canada's arctic.

Working currently at the Canadian Centre of Inland Waters in Burlington Ontario, Youngblut graduated from Laurentian University in 2000 with a degree in Geography and successfully completed the Canadian Hydrographic Service's multi-disciplinary career development program. In 2008, Youngblut was promoted from a senior hydrographer to a Hydrographer-in-charge and works on a variety of hydrography projects throughout the Great Lakes, in the St. Lawrence Seaway system and across the Canadian Arctic. He is a native of Goderich Ontario and currently resides in Burlington Ontario.

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