Standards and Requirements

Hydrographic Surveys Specifications and Deliverables

The Hydrographic Surveys Specifications and Deliverables (HSSD) contains the technical specifications for hydrographic survey data submitted to the Office of Coast Survey. It represents NOAA's implementation of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards for hydrographic survey and product specifications.

The HSSD 2024 is available in both PDF format and as a portable HTML (download file, unzip, and double-click index.htm).

NOAA Ship Rainier launches working in Behm Canal, Alaska.NOAA Ship Rainier launches working in Behm Canal, Alaska.

The HSSD 2024 version marks the largest overhaul of the HSSD in more than 20 years. The development of the revised HSSD was driven by a clear vision to embrace emerging technologies, enhance automation capabilities, and best encompass the wide variety of data that Coast Survey ingests. This includes facilitating the use of data generously contributed by our partners. Incorporating IHO S-100 based metadata tags and universal data licenses enables streamlined, scalable data handling, and better integration with the National Bathymetric Source (NBS) program, our compilation of best available bathymetry (BlueTopo) for efficient product generation and public access to our national bathymetry.

The specifications define standards and requirements on the following topics:

  • Raw data, point cloud data, grids, and 2D imagery
  • Uncertainty, coverage, and feature detection criteria
  • Data licensing, metadata, coordinate reference systems, and reporting
  • Features and feature encoding

The previous version, HSSD 2022, is still available during the period of transition to these revised specifications. Field units will reference their Project Instructions for guidance regarding which version of HSSD to utilize for NOAA surveys.

Field Procedures Manual

The Field Procedures Manual provides best practices and standard operating procedures for field units conducting, processing, and generating hydrographic survey deliverables. These guidelines help field units meet specifications delineated in the NOAA Hydrographic Surveys Specifications and Deliverables.

NOAA Scientist analyzing data while surveying on the NOAA Ship Ferdinand HasslerNOAA Scientist analyzing data while surveying on the NOAA Ship Ferdinand Hassler.

Topics include:

  • System preparation and maintenance, including annual readiness review and periodic quality assurance of hardware and software systems
  • Survey planning, including safety considerations and project instructions
  • Data acquisition, including sonar, horizontal and vertical control, and ancillary data.
  • Data analysis, including software configuration and standard processing steps
  • The most current version is February 2021. The plan for future updates will be on an annual basis along with the Hydrographic Specifications and Deliverables

Mention of a commercial company or product does not constitute an endorsement by NOAA's National Ocean Service, Office of Coast Survey. Use of information from this publication concerning proprietary products, or the tests of such products, for publicity or advertising purposes, is prohibited.

Hydrographic Manual

The historic National Ocean Survey Hydrographic Manual, Fourth Edition (1976), has been superseded by the NOS Hydrographic Surveys Specifications and Deliverables and the Field Procedures Manual. It is provided here for historical reference.