Coast Survey procures and oversees hydrographic surveying and related support services from contractors, in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part, Subpart 36.6, Architect-Engineer Services. Contracting opportunities are published at FedBizOpps.gov. NOAA hydrographic surveying services opportunities appear under procurement classification code, C-Architect and Engineering Services. Use the search term "hydrographic."
To learn more, reference our Hydrographic Surveying Services Contract summary.
NOAA has established certification requirements for applicants who want to redistribute NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC) as official data. This certification assures that the the quality of official NOAA ENC data is maintained, even when redistributed through an outside vendor.
Two types of certification are available:
Certified NOAA ENC Distributor (CED), covers NOAA ENC downloading, exact copying, and redistribution of those copies.
Certified NOAA ENC Value Added Distributor (CEVAD), permits reformatting official NOAA ENC into a System Electronic Navigational Chart (SENC) using type-approved software, and distribution of that SENC.
NOAA maintains a current list of CEDs and CEVADs which offer our products.
Questions about the CED/CEVAD certification process can be submitted through NOAA’s Nautical Inquiry & Comment System.
NOAA Paper Nautical Charts
Coast Survey has established a process by which third parties may be certified to download, redistribute, repackage, or in some cases, reformat official NOAA paper nautical charts, and have those charts retain their official status. These official charts meet the requirements for mandatory carriage of nautical charts as published in Title 33 and Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Instructions for becoming a certified NOAA paper chart distributor can be obtained by submitting an information request through NOAA’s Nautical Inquiry & Comment System.
National Centers for Environmental Information
The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) hosts and provides public access to one of the most significant archives for environmental data on Earth and is the primary repository for Coast Survey hydrographic data.
Office of Marine and Aviation Operations
The Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) operates the four NOAA ships that are primarily used for hydrographic survey operations. These ships are run by a combination of NOAA Commissioned Officers and wage marine civilians, who provide mission support and assistance. OMAO also operates the NOAA Small Boat Program, which ensures that boats, such as our those used by our navigation response teams meet or exceed standards for safety, construction, and operation.
NOAA coordinates with our federal partners on data exchanges, collection, and distribution of products.
United States Coast Guard
NOAA and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) work closely together to ensure accurate chart update information is provided to mariners. The Coast Guard provides NOAA with updated information on aids to navigation, bridge clearances, and traffic separation schemes, which are used to update NOAA’s nautical charts. NOAA cartographers provide the Coast Guard with updates which are published as chart corrections weekly in Local Notice to Mariners (LNM). This includes information on shoaling, wrecks, obstructions, and channel conditions (received from the United States Army Corps of Engineers). NOAA provides the USCG with over 50 percent of the chart updates found in LNMs. NOAA and the Coast Guard have also worked together over the last several years to ensure their respective navigation databases, such as aids to navigation, geographic features, and the Coast Guard’s Light List are consistent and accurate.
United Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is NOAA’s largest supplier of chart update information. NOAA relies exclusively on the Corps of Engineers to provide survey and tabular information concerning the 926 federal harbor channel projects that support the U.S. port system so that they can be accurately portrayed on nautical charts and included in USCG LNMs and NGA NMs.
Naval Oceanographic Office
The Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO), the largest subordinate command within the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, is responsible for providing oceanographic products and services to all elements of the Department of Defense. While NOAA is responsible for surveying and charting waters within the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), NAVOCEANO primarily conducts hydrographic surveys in foreign waters in support of military requirements. Occasionally, NAVOCEANO will conduct hydrographic surveys in U.S. territorial waters. These surveys may be furnished to NOAA for application to NOAA’s nautical charts.
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), partners with NOAA to provide critical nautical information to the general public. While NOAA is generally responsible for publishing charts of the coastal U.S., NGA publishes open ocean charts, as well as charts of some Pacific Islands and charts that may cover foreign waters. NGA’s also publishes the US Notice to Mariners (NM). NMs correct NGA and NOAA charts using information collected from many sources, among them the U.S. Coast Guard Local Notices.
United States Geological Survey
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) works with NOAA on marine boundary issues and provides information on offshore oil rigs to be included on NOAA charts.
United States Power Squadrons®
NOAA and the United States Power Squadrons (USPS) have worked together for over 40-years to program called Cooperative Charting. Under this program, the USPS provides NOAA with valuable information, which is used to update our nautical charts and the U.S. Coast Pilot.
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is a 30,000 member recreational boating organization that reports chart discrepancies to NOAA through the Chart Update program.
International Hydrographic Organizations
NOAA actively partners with international organizations and hydrographic offices to advance nautical charting and hydrography. More information about these partnerships can be found on our International Activities webpage.
International Center for Electronic Navigational Charts
NOAA is a member of the International Center for Electronic Navigational Charts (IC-ENC), which works to ensure safe navigation at sea by helping to ensure that our Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) are compliant with international standards, consistent, and readily available for use. IC-ENC also serves as a distributor for NOAA’s ENCs, which meet USCG carriage requirements.
Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center
The Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center (CCOM/JHC) is a formal cooperative partnership between the University of New Hampshire and NOAA whose aim is to create a national center for expertise in ocean mapping and hydrographic sciences. CCOM, a complementary university center, expands the scope of ocean mapping interaction and collaboration with the private sector, other government agencies, and other universities.
University of Maryland and Montgomery College
NOAA has collaborated with University of Maryland, College Park and Montgomery College to teach part of the curriculum for the certification program in cartography (CAT-B). The goal of this program is help to improve the way we evaluate incoming survey and other source data, update electronic and raster navigational charts, prepare notices to mariners, and manage the distribution of the charting products.
The University of Maryland, College Park is providing training in GIS analysis and spatial modeling, which address the concepts, tools, and techniques of GIS modeling (vector- and raster‐based modeling).
Montgomery College is providing training on cartography and map design in areas, such as manual computer graphics techniques for map making, implementing various styles and techniques associated with cartographic design, compiling thematic cartographic projects using geospatial resources in the US and abroad, interpretation skills, analysis of chart design parameters, and an academic overview of various styles and techniques associated with cartographic design.
University of Southern Mississippi
The Office of Coast Survey funds a research grant, through the Northern Gulf Institute, to the University of Southern Mississippi's Hydrographic Sciences Research Center. This grant funds the research and development of hydrographic systems and technologies, including the test and development of autonomous surface vehicles suitable for extended hydrographic survey operations.
University of Massachusetts-Darthmouth
NOAA has partnered with the University of Massachusetts-Darthmouth’s Marine Ecosystem Dynamics Modelling Laboratory (MEDML) on incorporating National Ocean Service (NOS) requirements for Operational Forecast Systems into the development and update cycle of the unstructured grid, Finite-Volume, primitive equation Community Ocean Model (FVCOM).
NOAA has forged many relationships with partners in the maritime community to provide superior products and services that meet the varying needs of users of our nation's waterways.
American Association of Port Authorities
American Pilots' Association
The American Pilots' Association (APA) is the national trade association of professional maritime pilots. Its membership is made up of approximately 60 groups of state-licensed pilots, representing virtually all the state pilots in the country, as well as the three groups of United States-registered pilots operating in the Great Lakes. APA members pilot over 95 percent of all ocean-going vessels moving in United States waters.
Passenger Vessel Association
The Passenger Vessel Association is dedicated to promoting the interests and the economic well-being of U.S. passenger vessel owners and operators, while promoting safety and a secure maritime operating environment for passengers, crew and the public at-large.
Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association
The Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) is a not-for-profit trade association whose mission is to facilitate commerce through ensuring safe, reliable and efficient Gulf Coast waterways. GICA keeps mariners informed of GIWW conditions and maintains Gulf Inland Waterways Joint Hurricane Response Protocol.
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterways Association
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterways Association (AIWA) is a national, non-profit organization with the mission of securing funding and support for the maintenance of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW). They represent all the stakeholders of the waterway and are the only organization dedicated to ensuring the future of the AIWW.
Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water
The Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is an innovative leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. The Foundation provides educational outreach directly to recreational boaters and supports partner organizations nationwide. With millions of boaters on the water, the aim is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of our waterways, and keep boating a safe and enjoyable pastime.