NOAA encourages all mariners to use NOAA ENC® for latest updates and other advantages

ECDIS display on the bridge of a tanker ship.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey maintains a suite of over 1,000 NOAA electronic navigational charts (ENC) and paper nautical charts, and like many other chart producing nations, maintains an ENC focused production process called “ENC-first.” That is, ENCs are the “first” or primary nautical product, and new data is compiled onto ENCs before all other products.

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Change of command for NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Capt. Chris van Westendorp and Cmdr. Briana Welton Hillstrom salute with Capt. Zezula looking on.

On April 12, 2019, the crew of NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson hosted a change of command in Brooklyn, NY. Cmdr. Briana Welton Hillstrom accepted command of Thomas Jefferson, relieving Capt. Christiaan van Westendorp in a ceremony led by Capt. David Zezula, commanding officer of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) Marine Operations Center-Atlantic.

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Coast Survey spotlight: Meet Tim Wilkinson

As a navigation response team member, Tim conducts hydrographic surveys on one of several small survey vessels to help make our coastlines safer for navigation. His normal area of operation is Washington and Oregon but will be called to assist with emergency response all across the country.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.


Tim Wilkinson, navigation response team member

“Our nation’s waterways are constantly changing and the technology we’re using to chart them is becoming increasingly more accurate. My position and my counterparts on the other teams are integral to developing accurate charts to ensure safer navigation. We also act as emergency responders to situations such as hurricanes and ship groundings.”

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U.S. Coast Pilot® now contains Coast Guard navigation rules

NOAA recently announced that all nine United States Coast Pilot®  volumes now contain the U.S. Coast Guard International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (72 COLREGS) and the Inland Navigation Rules — commonly known as the “Rules of the Road.” The navigation rules are similar to rules on the highway as they present a consistent way to navigate safely and avoid collisions. Having the newly published Coast Pilot now fulfills the legal requirement for mariners to maintain a copy of these regulations on board.

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Tankers, Freighters, and….Kayaks?

From tankers to kayaks, NOAA nautical chart products offer something for all types of users.

By Nick Perugini

It is not an exaggeration to say that ALL types of vessels use NOAA charts.  We know that large commercial ships, such as tankers and freighters, rely on NOAA charts in U.S. waters, and for that matter, so do recreational boaters. But kayakers? Some of the most enthusiastic and appreciative comments we receive are sent to us by kayakers. The following are a few examples. Continue reading “Tankers, Freighters, and….Kayaks?”

Coast Survey spotlight: Meet Steve Soherr

Steve working to portray spatial information.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.


Steve Soherr, customer affairs specialist

“I think there’s really an art to presenting spatial information in a way that allows users to quickly glean far more information than would be possible by using text alone. I’m part of a team that is working to accurately and efficiently portray information that is always changing.”

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NOAA Improves Etolin Strait Data with New NOAA ENC® Layout

Etolin Strait survey area and reschemed grid

NOAA recently released 13 new large-scale electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) of Etolin Strait, Alaska. These charts provide a nearly twenty-fold increase in scale over the previous ENC coverage. New Etolin Strait hydrographic surveys and the resulting ENCs served as a pilot project for the overall rescheming of the entire NOAA ENC suite with a regular, gridded layout for ENC charts, as outlined in NOAA’s National Charting Plan. No corresponding NOAA raster nautical chart products in Etolin Strait will be produced. This is in keeping with Coast Survey’s “ENC-only” production concept, which generally maintains the current raster chart product coverage, but only creates new larger scale coverage in the ENC product line.

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NOAA announces change in channel depths on raster nautical chart products

Ships passing on the lower Mississippi River.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey recently announced plans to change the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) maintained channel depth values on raster nautical chart products, which include paper nautical charts and the corresponding digital raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®). Minimum depths (also called controlling depths) are collected during periodic USACE sonar surveys of channels. In the past, these depths were provided on raster charts, but controlling depths will now be replaced with the original channel design dredging depths used by the USACE (called project depths). Standardizing depth presentation on these products will improve data consistency and overall safety. Implementation begins in early 2019.

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Coast Survey spotlight: Meet John Doroba

John aboard the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada as they perform autonomous underwater vehicle operations near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.


John Doroba, physical scientist

“Once I saw the mission I was hooked. It was the best job a recent graduate who loved being in the field could ask for, especially when you get to travel all around the country. Where else could I practice my love for science, utilize my education, solve real world problems that serve a purpose, and directly impact people in a positive way?”

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nowCOAST® offers new Gulf of Maine, Chesapeake Bay forecast services

Depiction of NOS Vv probability of occurrence forecast guidance for Chesapeake Bay on nowCOAST map viewer.

NOAA’s nowCOAST®, a GIS-based online web mapping service that provides frequently updated weather and ocean observations, analyses, imagery, and ocean model forecast guidance, along with weather watches and warnings and forecasts, now provides maps of oceanographic forecast guidance from the National Ocean Service (NOS) 3-D operational forecast modeling system for the Gulf of Maine (GoMOFS) and NOS forecast guidance of the marine pathogen, Vibrio Vulnificus (Vv), for the Chesapeake Bay via two new map services and map viewer. Continue reading “nowCOAST® offers new Gulf of Maine, Chesapeake Bay forecast services”