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

Chart Source Data

Many Sources are Used to Update NOAA Navigational Products

Coast Survey receives over 6,000 digital and hard copy chart source documents annually. Each is reviewed for its suitability for updating one or more raster nautical chart, NOAA ENC®, or U.S. Coast Pilot® products. Of these, about 18,000 separate chart compilations are assigned to be carried out by Coast Survey’s federal employee and contract cartographers.

Of all the natural and manmade features depicted on NOAA nautical charts, the four types that change the most, and for which Coast Survey receives the most source material, are:

  • Water depths and the identification of wrecks, rocks, and other obstructions – from NOAA’s Hydrographic Surveys Division
  • Depths within federally maintained channels – from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Delineation of shoreline – from NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey
  • Positions, types, and characteristics of aids to navigation (buoys, beacons, and navigational lights) – from the U.S. Coast Guard

These account for over 70% of the source applications assigned. The remaining source material is provided by a variety of other federal, state and local government agencies, national and international regulatory organizations, private companies, professional organizations, and private citizens.


Revised: 6/8/2018