NOAA nautical charts now available as free PDFs

In case you missed it, yesterday we announced an end to government printing of lithographic nautical charts, effective April 13. Lithographs are part of Coast Survey’s proud heritage, since we started using that printing process for mass-producing charts for the Civil War, and it will be hard to see the era end. (See NOAA announces end of traditional paper chart.) While lithographic printing is scheduled to stop, however, the public will continue to be able to purchase NOAA paper charts as up-to-date print-on-demand products.

As one product ends, another begins. We also announced yesterday that our latest addition to the nautical charting portfolio is the new Portable Document Format (PDF) nautical chart, which provides up-to-date navigation information in this universally available file type. Initially, the PDF nautical charts will be available for a three-month trial, from October 22, 2013, to January 22, 2014.

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Boaters! Get free NOAA nautical products for fun and safety…

Coast Survey’s mandate is to provide nautical products that help make maritime transportation safe. As we develop and improve navigational products for commercial mariners, we also look for opportunities to serve the recreational boating community. All of the products listed below are available as free downloads.

BookletCharts™ are nautical charts in booklet form, downloadable for printing from home computers. People like to put each page into a sheet protector, and keep the updated notebooks on their boats.

BookletCharts

For the tons (and tons) of useful information that can’t be put on the nautical charts, check out the United States Coast Pilot®, nine volumes of supplemental information important to safe and enjoyable navigation.

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After ten years of NOAA ENCs, nearly 10 million (free) downloads per month!

It was only ten short years ago that NOAA began issuing electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) as official products. As we look back, the promises of a product that emerged a decade ago continue to beckon, with even more uses and greater usage.

“We still make the traditional paper charts that mariners have depended on, but the world of navigation is changing, and Coast Survey is helping to lead that change,” explains Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “Increasingly, mariners use – and soon will be required to use – electronic systems and displays to view and manage the safe navigation of their ships.”

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NOAA’s latest mobile app provides free nautical charts for recreational boating

UPDATE: the beta testing period for MyNOAACharts has ended 

Public is invited to try beta version of MyNOAACharts

As recreational boaters gear up for a summer of fun on coastal waters and the Great Lakes, NOAA is testing MyNOAACharts, a new mobile application that allows users to download NOAA nautical charts and editions of the U.S. Coast Pilot. The app, which is only designed for Android tablets for the testing period, was just released.

MyNOAAChart, which can be used on land and on the water, lets users find their positions on a NOAA nautical chart. They can zoom in any specific location with a touch of the finger, or zoom out for the big picture to plan their day of sailing. The Coast Pilot has geo-tagged some of the major references and provides links to appropriate federal regulations.

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U.S. Chart No. 1 moves into electronic age

For the 65 years since the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey issued the first edition of U.S. Chart No.1 in 1948, mariners have had a standard guide for understanding the symbols, abbreviations and terms used on paper nautical charts. In a major step forward, a new edition of that guide also describes the symbols specified by the International Hydrographic Organization for the display of electronic navigational charts (ENC) on Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS).

SymbolGlobeSeveral maritime nations produce their own versions of Chart 1. The U.S. Chart No. 1 describes the symbols used on paper nautical charts produced by NOAA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The new U.S. Chart No. 1 is the first “Chart 1” produced by any country to show paper and electronic chart symbology side by side.

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NOAA’s new nautical chart improves safety for maritime gateway to the Arctic

NOAA Office of Coast Survey has released a new nautical chart for the Arctic, which will help mariners navigate the Bering Strait. Chart 16190 (Bering Strait North) incorporates precise depth measurements acquired recently by NOAA Ship Fairweather hydrographic surveys.

Coast Survey has also released a new edition of Chart 16220 (St Lawrence Island to Bering Strait).

“Our Arctic Nautical Charting Plan identified the need for 14 new charts in the Arctic,” explains Commander Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Chart 16190 was high on our list of priorities, since the Bering Strait is the maritime gateway from the Bering Sea in the Pacific Ocean to the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean.”

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NOAA starts 2013 post-Sandy surveys at Statue of Liberty

NOAA kicked off its spring season for post-Sandy hydrographic work on April 11, as a navigation response team — equipped with high-tech surveying equipment — began a search for underwater storm debris and mapped the depths surrounding Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Navigation Response Team 5 wrapped up their project today, after surveying over 110 linear nautical miles. They surveyed for 119 hours, collecting over 578 million depth measurements.

In addition to surveying around Liberty Island and Ellis Island, Coast Survey’s NRT5 surveyed adjacent areas to acquire data for updates to NOAA’s nautical charts. This is the “rainbow” coverage map that shows the surveyed area. (The colors indicate depth.)

Graphic depiction of Navigation Response Team 5 surveys of Liberty Island and adjacent areas
Navigation Response Team 5 prepared this graphic depiction of their surveys of Liberty Island and adjacent areas.

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Updated Arctic chart mitigates risk for commercial transportation on the Kuskokwim

By Andrew Kampia, chief of Products Branch A, Marine Chart Division, Office of Coast Survey

When we say that many Arctic charts are lacking information critical to navigation, we’re not overstating the issue. A case in point was the 2005 edition of Chart 16304, depicting the mouth of Kuskokwim River to the City of Bethel, in Alaska. This was a preliminary chart with no hydrography, no depth measurements whatsoever.

Chart 16304 - 2005
Preliminary Chart 16304, issued in 2005

Coast Survey just released updated NOAA Chart 16304, which now includes contemporary shoreline and hydrography. (The NOAA ENC® equivalent — US4AK85M — will be available in a month or two.)

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Coast Survey publishes new international chart for navigation between Florida and Cuba

As the nation’s nautical chartmaker, Coast Survey produces the country’s traditional paper charts for coastal waters, territorial waters, and the Great Lakes. We maintain the Print-on-Demand charts that you can purchase from OceanGraphix and East View Geospatial. We make the nation’s raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®) and electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®). And the free downloadable BookletCharts. But did you know we produce international charts, too? NOAA has five international charts covering the Northeastern Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea… and we just published our sixth, for the opposite coast.

International mariners entering U.S. waters around southwestern Florida now have a new international (INT) nautical chart to help ease their transit. The new chart, INT 4148, has the same information as Chart 11420, Havana to Tampa Bay, but the depictions are converted to the metric system. (Most U.S. charts use either feet or fathoms for depth measurements). INT charts also use some different symbology, so Coast Survey makes those modifications as well.

Chart 11420 - INT 4148
The image on the left is a close-up of Dry Tortugas on NOAA Chart 11420. The image on the right is the same area on INT 4148. Note that converting fathoms to meters results in different contour lines for the same area.

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Coast Survey issues new Arctic Nautical Charting Plan

In June 2011, Coast Survey issued the first edition of the Arctic Nautical Charting Plan, a major effort to improve Arctic chart coverage that is inadequate for modern needs. After consultations with maritime interests and the public, as well as with other federal, state, and local agencies, we have issued the updated Arctic Nautical Charting Plan: A plan to support sustainable marine transportation in the Alaska and the Arctic.

“Maritime challenges are increasing in the Arctic. As multi-year sea ice continues to disappear at a rapid rate, vessel traffic in the Arctic is on the rise,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, Coast Survey’s director. “This is leading to new maritime concerns, especially in areas increasingly transited by the offshore oil and gas industry and cruise liners.”

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