Aleutians Uncrewed Ocean Exploration

A long-term survey around the Aleutian Islands and off the coast of California to address ocean exploration gaps in remote areas with USVs.

13,112 sq nm

US EEZ seafloor mapped

1,000 m

Height of seamount discovered

4,000 nm

Round-trip transit to operation area

Access Data Set


Exploration and seafloor mapping of this region has the potential to unlock new opportunities for conservation, climate science, and the Blue Economy. This mission was designed to test the limits of Saildrone Surveyor-class vehicles for remote ocean mapping and environmental sampling. 

SD-1200 also carried an environmental DNA (eDNA) sensor from the Monteray Bay Aquarium and Research Institute (MBARI) to collect data about marine biodiversity and ocean health.


For 52 days between August and October, the Surveyor mapped 4,738 square nautical miles (6,276 square miles) of unknown seafloor around the Aleutian Islands. Mission collaborators were able to follow the data collection in real time. Preliminary data revealed unprecedented detail of the Aleutian arc seafloor, including previously unknown structures, some of which indicate potential hydrothermal vents.

The Surveyor mapped an additional 8,665 square nautical miles (11,474 square miles) of the US EEZ and discovered a previously unknown seamount standing approximately 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) high from the seabed. 

Despite 35-knot winds and wave swells over 5 meters, the Surveyor continued to collect high-quality data without risk to human life and with a reduced carbon footprint.

“By joining forces with other federal agencies, academia, and industry, we were able to leverage a variety of expertise and multiple technologies to investigate areas off of Alaska and California that were otherwise unexplored. In order to map and characterize vast and remote expanses of the ocean, we need new technologies like the Saildrone Surveyor to augment ship-based exploration.”

Jeremy Weirich

Director of NOAA Ocean Exploration

Scientific Papers

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