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

March 1, 2017

Hello Coast Survey,
I asked Colby Harmon to take up the pen this week to introduce the National Charting Plan.



I appreciate the opportunity to share some information about the National Charting Plan that Coast Survey released this week.

Subtitled, “A Strategy to Transform Nautical Charting,” it is meant to communicate our vision for the future of nautical products and services to the public. A notice in the Federal Register invites the public to provide feedback on the plan through June 1, 2017. You are invited to comment too (see directions on how to submit comments on page 7.)

Over a dozen Coast Survey expert contributors provided content for various parts and many others offered valuable suggestions to improve the plan during an internal review of the document prior to its release. Thanks so much to all of you who helped.

The plan describes several new initiatives that the Marine Chart Division is considering to improve chart content and production efficiency, including:

  • Compiling depth areas on ENCs in whole (integer) meters and eventually converting depths on all raster charts from fathoms and feet to meters.
  • Migrating small craft chart coverage into standard nautical charts of equal or greater scale and eventually cancelling all small craft charts.
  • Calculating and encoding safe clearance depths for wrecks of unknown depth in areas deeper than 20 meters.
  • Pointing users to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s website to get updated minimum depths surveyed within federally maintained channels, instead of showing this data in tabular form on raster charts.
  • Implementing a systematic review of over 3,000 features categorized as “reported” or “existence doubtful” and the nearly 18,000 features labeled as “position approximate” to start resolving these uncertainties through surveys or other field operations to disprove their existence or obtain precise positions for these features.
  • Creating an orderly layout for ENC charts that will replace the current set of 1,182 irregularly shaped ENC cells compiled at 131 different scales with a regular gridded framework of cells compiled at a few dozen standard scales.
  • Working with the U.S. Coast Guard to develop methods to ingest changes to the database of USCG maintained aids to navigation directly into MCD’s chart production system.

Customer feedback will help us refine these initiatives and possibly identify new ones that will help drive our efforts to keep up with the increasingly complex requirements of marine navigational systems.

Colby Harmon
Cartographer/ Project Manager
Marine Chart Division Staff