Thoughts from the Miami Boat Show which NAUTICAL LOG is attending courtesy of Discover Boating. One of the things we picked up was Chart Catalog #1 covering the Atlantic Coast, ours was borrowed and never found its way back home. As the boating season is gradually getting underway for those of you who do not live in South Florida it is time to prepare. There is much to choose from in navigational software and electronic charting systems but who are the people behind the actual cartography. Federal Agencies in nautical charting are four (4) principals with some very important divisions - lets have a look.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce is considered the lead agency. It is responsible for conducting research, making predictions, and gathering data about the oceanic and atmospheric components of the environment. NOAA's division National Ocean Service (NOS) is the primary civil agency responsible for the health and safety of our Nation's coastal and oceanic environment. Within NOS the Office of Coast Survey is responsible for producing and maintaining approximately 1000 charts that cover the coastal waters of the United States and its Territories. Its cartographers together with private contractors compile the necessary data and surveys to keep these nautical charts updated.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has as its mission to provide timely, relevant, and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security. NGA publishes charts that cover the areas outside the United States. The Notices to Mariners are also published by NGA as is other nautical data.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for carrying out survey and dredging in federally maintained waterways. Results from the surveys are provided to NOAA for inclusion in NOAA charts. The USACE is authorised to produce maps, as they are termed in inland waterways, charts and publications for the waterways under its jurisdiction. Currently the USACE is working to produce a suite of electronic charts/maps that cover the inland waterways of the U.S.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is responsible for installing and maintaining navigational aids in U.S. coastal waters. Positions and characteristics of aids are furnished to NOAA for presentation on charts. The USCG is also responsible for publishing chart corrections in weekly Local Notice to Mariners (LNM) as well as maintaining the U.S. Light List.
Harbor charts; 1:50,000 and larger.
Coast charts; 1:50,001 to 1:150,000.
General charts; 1:150,001 to 1:600,000.
Sailing charts; 1:600,001 and smaller.
Small-craft charts; 1:80,000 and larger.