The Great Lakes are getting a digital upgrade

Screenshot of an ENC for the Pelee Passage Southeast Shoal.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey collaborated with U.S. and Canadian mariners, the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), and the Canadian Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) to update the Recommend Courses in Lake Erie and transfer them from paper charts to NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®). This bi-national effort involved compiling and updating information for Lake Erie’s 75 routes which span both U.S. and Canadian waters. These routes cover 20 NOAA and five Canadian ENCs.

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Register for NOAA Nav-cast webinar: How to obtain NOAA ENC-based paper nautical charts

Join us for our next NOAA Nav-cast, a quarterly webinar series that highlights the tools and trends of NOAA navigation services.

How to obtain NOAA ENC-based paper nautical charts after NOAA ends production of traditional paper charts

Recently, NOAA announced the start of a five-year process to end traditional paper nautical chart production.  While NOAA is sunsetting its traditional nautical chart products, it is undertaking a major effort to improve the data consistency and provide larger scale coverage within its electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) product suite. Over the next five years, NOAA will work to ease the transition to ENC-based products, such as providing access to paper chart products based on ENC data. The online NOAA Custom Chart prototype application enables users to create their own charts from the latest NOAA ENC data. Users may define the scale and paper size of custom-made nautical charts centered on a position of their choosing. Users may then download, view, and print the output. The application is an easy way to create a paper or digital backup for electronic chart systems.

This webcast will provide an overview of the sunsetting process and a live demonstration of the NOAA Custom Chart prototype, including a discussion of the improvements that are planned for the prototype.

Date and time: Thursday, January 9, 2020, at 2 p.m. (EST)
How to register:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7410207397804043779

Coast Survey Spotlight: Meet Rick Powell


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.


Rick Powell, cartographer

“The Coast Pilot is a supplement to the chart, and eventually the electronic navigational chart… This helps ensure that our knowledge of the subject is transferred to the navigator/mariners with little effort.”

Rick and Julia Powell in Shanghai, China.
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NOAA seeks public comment on ending production of traditional paper nautical charts

NOAA cartographers review a traditional printed nautical chart.

NOAA is initiating a five-year process to end all traditional paper nautical chart production and is seeking the public’s feedback via a Federal Register Notice published on November 15, 2019. Chart users, companies that provide products and services based on NOAA raster and electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC®) products, and other stakeholders can help shape the manner and timing in which the product sunsetting process will proceed. Comments may be submitted through NOAA’s online ASSIST feedback tool.

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Coast Survey Spotlight: Meet Kolleen Mortimer

Kolleen Mortimer standing on the banks of the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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.


Kolleen Mortimer, Physical Scientist

“Knowing the data we examine every day contributes to safe navigational products is greatly rewarding. It’s also rewarding to see the process come to life in a greater scope. When the data leaves my desk and makes it to a chart product, I can say that my work contributed to that.”

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S-100 sea trials: working toward harmonized navigation products

International team participating in the S-100 sea trial.

By Julia Powell, deputy division chief of the Coast Survey Development Lab

On August 27, an international contingent from the United States (NOAA), the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, and the Canadian Hydrographic Service participated in the S-100 sea trial in Busan, Republic of Korea.

S-100 is the International Hydrographic Organization’s (IHO) Universal Hydrographic Data Model’s framework standard from which a variety of product specifications can be developed for use within navigation systems and marine spatial data infrastructure.  For many years, NOAA and the Ministry of Fisheries of the Republic of Korea have had a Joint Project Agreement and one of the projects is to develop and promote and S-100 test bed.  This test bed is designed to help further the development of S-100 infrastructure used to develop S-100 related products and further the testing of S-100 interoperability within navigation systems.

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Saildrone launched with seafloor mapping capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico shows promise for remote Arctic mapping

Rear Adm. Shep Smith, Richard Jenkins, and Brian Connon in front of a Saildrone.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), and Saildrone accomplished a key milestone in the research and testing of unmanned technology that can lead to enhanced seafloor mapping capabilities with the launch of the first Saildrone — a wind-driven and solar-powered unmanned surface vehicle (USV) — equipped with multibeam echo sounder technology in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA anticipates the success of this mission and technical achievement will lead to mapping projects in the Arctic.

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NOAA hosts 2019 Nautical Cartography Open House and Chart Adequacy Workshop

Sean Legeer shows a digital cartography display to visiting students.

Last week, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey held its third annual Nautical Cartography Open House welcoming over 250 attendees from the U.S. and abroad. Government agencies, industry and academic partners, and members of the public attended. The open house featured posters, presentations, tours, and exhibits centered around four themes: Bathymetric Databases, Custom Charting, Innovative Cartography, and Precision Navigation. Dr. Shachak Pe’eri, organizer of the event and chief of the Cartographic Support Branch in the Marine Chart Division, welcomed attendees in the morning and John Nyberg, chief of the Marine Chart Division, gave the keynote speech.

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NOAA releases 2019 hydrographic survey plans

NOAA Hydrographic Survey Projects 2019 story map cover

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is the nation’s nautical chartmaker, and maintains a suite of more than a thousand nautical charts. Coast Survey is responsible for charting U.S. waters and Great Lakes covering 3.4 million square nautical miles (SNM) of water and 95,000 miles of coastline.

NOAA’s hydrographic survey ships along with hydrographic contractor vessels, recently kicked off the 2019 hydrographic survey season. These surveys not only update the suite of nautical charts, but also help to maintain the safety of maritime commerce, recreational boaters, natural ecosystems, and much more. Operations are scheduled for maritime priority areas around the country and are outlined in Coast Survey’s “living” story map. Here is a list of where they are headed this year:

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