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Historical C&GS

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Ship with chart overlaid on terrain; Janet WardCollectively, within the Coast and Geodetic Survey the interlocking activities required to acquire data for producing nautical charts has been termed "hydrographic surveying". Those who conduct hydrographic surveys are hydrographers. Historically the hydrographer has had to be familiar with the disciplines of geodesy, oceanography, marine geology, cartography, navigation, and seamanship; for much of this century knowledge of the added disciplines of electronics and computer science has become increasingly necessary. Nautical charting work is a team effort that requires dedicated personnel who are willing to work together from the smallest boat and shore parties, through ships'crews, to the whole organization including chart compilers, cartographers, and press operators. This is necessary to maintain the standards of accuracy required for successful charting as recording of data, calibration of instruments, and final plotting of values must all be done with the utmost care and skill.

Since the very first days of the Coast Survey under Ferdinand Hassler, the sense that every individual number or feature on a chart is of great importance has been a hallmark of the organization. This organizational value has carried through to today and has served the commerce and defense of our Nation. Hundreds of billions of tons of cargo and millions of passengers have been safely transported on ships navigating with Coast and Geodetic Survey charts. Thousands of transits have been safely made by United States Navy ships, Coast Guard ships, and Army transports while using Coast and Geodetic Survey charts.

Come join the chartmakers of the Coast and Geodetic Survey on their small ships and boats, casting the lead and operating their electronic sounding systems, establishing their navigation signals and stations, recording the rise and fall of the tide, measuring the tidal currents, and producing their final product - the nautical chart.

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Historical C&GS ~ Nautical Charting Albums

drawing of ancient egyptian barge

illustration of sounding machine
Bathymetry -
Mapping the

men with sextants

man with instrument aboard ship
Tides and Tidal Currents

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Last Updated:
October 1, 2009