Moving forward with Cooperative Charting


Over 15 million recreational boat users in the U.S. use NOAA digital chart products when navigating. These boaters, like their commercial counterparts, expect more precise, higher resolution charts with more timely and easily accessible chart updates. United States Power Squadrons is the NOAA Office of Coast Survey’s original trusted partner for valuable observations and data to improve charts, especially for recreational boating. NOAA remains committed to the Cooperative Charting Program.

In recent years, Coast Survey has expanded its focus on smaller waterways and coastal areas—areas where United States Power Squadrons has local knowledge and expertise. Smaller waterways and small boats serve coastal communities and support local economies. Nautical chart scales are often inadequate to depict the detail necessary for safe navigation in these areas. Natural shorelines and water depths in the nearshore area change dramatically, particularly near ocean inlets. Thousands of shoals and obstructions are often reported after groundings and allisions.

In numerous instances, NOAA has charted estimated depths reported by the public after a vessel grounding or near miss. Thousands of charted wrecks and obstructions are marked with estimated positions that can be up to a half-mile or more in error. Without the hydrographic resources to find and resolve all these reported depths, wrecks and obstructions throughout the country, NOAA relies on United States Power Squadrons and the Cooperative Charting Program to be its “eyes and ears” for nautical chart discrepancies in these areas.

NOAA is currently working on a web-based replacement for CCWEB. The new system, which we hope will be live in the next year, will feature improved tools for communicating and submitting chart discrepancy information. In the meantime, you can report chart discrepancies (issues vital to safety and navigation) through NOAA’s Nautical Discrepancy Report System at Complete the form with the information requested for Coast Pilot updates, chart discrepancies or depth surveys. After submitting the form, you will get a reply from the NOAA coordinator.

If the discrepancy is an Aid to Navigation (ATON) or Private Aid to Navigation (PATON), report it directly to the United States Coast Guard sector for your area to be included in the Local Notice to Mariners. The ATON Discrepancy Report form can be found here. Once you submit the report, you will receive a reply notice.

Over the past year, Coast Survey leadership has changed. Rear Adm. Gerd Glang retired in August 2016, and Rear Adm. Shep Smith is the new director. Matt Kroll, deputy chief of Coast Survey’s Navigation Services Division will continue to serve as the NOAA Cooperative Charting Program Coordinator.

NOAA has been fortunate to have a vibrant Cooperative Charting Committee and is thankful to Past Rear Commander Diane Julum for her service on the committee and contributions to this article. NOAA looks forward to working with Rear Commander Tom Peltier moving forward.

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The Ensign magazine is an official channel of United States Power Squadrons, America’s Boating Club, a volunteer organization whose members teach boating skills and best practices to help improve the safety of our nation’s waterways. Learn more.