Hydrographic Survey - National and International Maritime Hydrography - History and Responsibilities - United States

United States

In United States statutory authority for hydrographic surveys of territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) lies with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA hydrographic surveys are conducted by the National Ocean Service, a uniformed corps within NOAA and a fleet of survey vessels based at two major centers. The organic survey assets are supplemented by other agencies and contract surveys in order to survey the large areas within its responsibility. Those were identified in the NOAA Hydrographic Survey Priorities (NHSP) - East Coast alone as being 3,603 square miles (9,330 km2) classified as critical. The 2009 status shows 29,412 square nautical miles (100,900 km2) out of 510,841 square nautical miles (1,752,000 km2) "Navigationally Significant" were completed. The NOAA Office of Coast Survey, Hydrographic Surveys Division estimates it has awarded approximately $250 million in contracts for hydrographic surveying and related support since 1994.

For inland surface waters such as rivers, streams and inland lakes the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has national responsibility. USGS coordinates survey data collection and publishes a National Hydrography Dataset that is designed to be used with geographic information systems (GIS). Other federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service use these data and, along with state and local hydrographic collection organizations, contribute to the national hydrographic data base. The Environmental Protection Agency conducts or contracts for surveys on projects such as the GE/Hudson River Super Fund site.

The U.S. Coast Guard conducts hydrographic survey operations, particularly in the Polar regions.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) oversees charting of international waters for Department of Defense purposes. The Navy's Naval Oceanographic Office conducts many the oceanic surveys. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts hydrographic surveys supporting its responsibility for the major waterway projects that include navigation and flood control. Hydrographic data from those surveys is published by districts. Such data is incorporated into both NOAA and NGA products and the Corps engages in efforts to improve hydrographic collection methods. Military combat organizations such as the Navy's SEAL and engineering units have specialized hydrographic reconnaissance survey capability.

The NOAA Office of Coast Survey, Coast Survey Partners web page offers a useful list and summary of major player activities, government and private, with links to those partner web sites.

Read more about this topic:  Hydrographic Survey, National and International Maritime Hydrography, History and Responsibilities

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