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National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
NGA logo The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), in the Department of Defense, partners with NOAA to provide critical nautical information to the general public. The mission of NGA’s Maritime Safety Information Division is to collect and analyze maritime safety information in support of a nautical database maintenance environment to produce, promulgate, and provide worldwide access to standard nautical, digital and customer tailored hydrographic and bathymetric safety of navigation data. NGA’s most important publication is the US Notice to Mariners.

The US Notice to Mariners provides timely marine safety information for the correction of all US Government navigation charts and publications from a wide variety of sources both foreign and domestic. To ensure the safety of life at sea, the information published in the Notice to Mariners is designed to provide for the correction of unclassified nautical charts, the Unclassified NGA Catalog of Hydrographic Products, United States Coast Pilots, Sailing Directions, Fleet Guides, NGA List of Lights, USCG Light Lists, and other related nautical publications produced by NGA, NOAA and the USCG. The US Notice to Mariners is a weekly publication with a hardcopy distribution of approximately 12,000 copies.

The US Notice to Mariners corrects NGA and NOAA charts using information collected from many sources, among them the U.S. Coast Guard Local Notices published by several Coast Guard Districts. From all sources, the U.S. Notice to Mariners will contain only those chart corrections of interest to ocean going vessels. In general, chart corrections that affect areas inshore of the 18-foot contour are rarely included in the US Notice to Mariners.

Approximately 96 percent of the US chart corrections published in the US Notice to Mariners have as their source, USCG Local Notice to Mariners. Items usually appear in the US Notice to Mariners about four to six weeks after they appear in the USCG Local Notice to Mariners. Occasionally, NGA’s US Notice to Mariners will contain information not otherwise known to NOAA or the USCG Local Notice to Mariners. Very often, these items originate from military units and other DOD sources.

NGA publishes a suite of paper nautical charts that typically junction with NOAA’s suite of nautical charts. In general, NOAA is responsible for publishing charts of the coastal U.S., while NGA publishes open ocean charts. NGA also publishes charts of some Pacific Islands as well as charts that may cover foreign waters.

The Digital Nautical Chart® (DNC) is produced by NGA and is an unclassified, vector-based, digital database containing maritime significant features essential for safe marine navigation. Initial data collection of the database is from a portfolio of approximately 5,000 nautical charts that will ultimately provide global marine navigation between 84° North latitude and 81° South latitude and support a variety of Geographic Information System applications.

NGA has made DNCs available for the corresponding NOAA charts that cover the US coastal waters. DNCs are based on and developed from the feature content of NGA and NOAA paper charts. The features depicted are thematically organized into 12 layers or coverages including: Cultural Landmarks, Earth Cover, Environment, Hydrography, Inland Waterways, Land Cover, Limits, Aids to Navigation, Obstructions, Port Facilities, Relief, and Data Quality.

DNC’s contain vector data and feature content for thematically layered, relationally structured set of databases to support electronic chart display systems for the US Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, government agencies and government/US military sponsored contractors. Public sale of Digital Nautical Chart in US waters is anticipated in the near future.

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