Office of Coast Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

Standards and Requirements

Hydrographic Specifications and Deliverables

NOAA Hydrographic Specifications and Deliverables detail the requirements for hydrographic surveys undertaken either by NOAA field units or by organizations under contract to the NOAA.

These specifications are based in part on the International Hydrographic Organization’s Standards for Hydrographic Surveys, Special Publication 44. The 2017 edition includes new specifications and changes made since the 2016 version. Those who acquire hydrographic survey data in accordance with NOAA specifications should use the current version.

These specifications define standards and requirements on the following topics:

  • Horizontal and vertical position uncertainty
  • Tides and water levels requirements
  • Coverage and resolution requirements for multibeam, singlebeam, side scan, and lidar data
  • Features
  • Required field reporting

Schemas for generating XML Descriptive Reports can be downloaded here:

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.

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 April 2014. A new version is in work and 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The historic National Ocean Survey Hydrographic Manual, Fourth Edition (1976), has been superseded by the NOS Hydrographic Surveys Specifications and Deliverables and the Field Procedures Manual.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.

Revised: 4/12/2018