What is cooperative charting?
Have you ever used a nautical chart to find your way from one “marker” to another? If you have, chances are you benefited from the Cooperative Charting program, a major public service of the United States Power Squadrons (USPS) public service in which Squadron members help validate the accuracy of critical elements on the chart.
Cooperative Charting is recognized as the most effective user participation program in all of the Federal services.
Under this program, USPS members supply information to the Marine Chart division of NOS leading to the production “of accurate and up to date nautical and aeronautical charts” and related publications. The Cooperative Charting Program began in 1963 with a Memorandum Of Agreement between USPS and what is now the National Ocean Service (NOS), National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Department of Commerce. This agreement has been updated several times and will continue to serve well into the future with further updates.
Cooperative Charting is performed by USPS members in cooperation with the National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Program is conducted and administered cooperatively by the Marine Chart Division of the National Ocean Service (NOS) and the national USPS Cooperative Charting Committee.
What types of service are performed?
The Program provides a variety of services in support of our nation’s charting authority. We supply information and corrections to nautical charts, small craft charts, Coast Pilot publications, depth surveys and related documents. As a service to mariners, NOS acts as a clearing house on USPS boating related reports such as nonfunctioning aids to navigation (maintained by the USCG), cable crossings (monitored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), and corrections to other agencies’ charts and maps (such as the Defense Mapping Agency, Corps of Engineers, and others).
How big is our civic effort?
It has been estimated that the value of the service that USPS contributes each year to the U.S. Government amounts to $15 to $20 million of effort. In a time of continually decreasing NOAA budgets, this figure could increase as requests for our services grow and NOAA resources shrink.
How do our efforts benefit the public?
USPS members act as field observers for NOAA. They are uniquely suited to this role because of the outstanding education and training they receive through the USPS educational program. As the number of official NOAA observers decreases through budget stringencies, USPS members report on many items that would otherwise go undetected and unreported. Many of these reports are of a critical nature requiring immediate distribution through the Coast Guard’s broadcasted and published ‘Local Notice To Mariners’.
Without these USPS observations, many hazards would go undetected until tragedy strikes through a nautical mishap. Thus, USPS members save lives and property, as well as furthering boating safety through these efforts to improve the quality of our nations charts. The Cooperative Charting Program is a highly successful, public service effort dedicated to the advancement of safety on the water for both the boating public and USPS members.
How can you become involved?
Your initial involvement in Cooperative Charting requires a minimum of effort. After that, you can decide how much you want to be involved. However, it can be insidiously habit‑forming.
There are many people who can help you get involved, but the easiest way is to contact the Squadron Cooperative Charting Chairman. Or, try assisting someone in the squadron who is currently involved in one of our many Cooperative Charting projects.
Typical field activities
- NAUTICAL CHART ITEMS ‑ OBSERVING AND REPORTING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHARTED INFORMATION AND THAT WHICH IS CURRENTLY OBSERVABLE.
- SMALL CRAFT FACILITIES ‑ OBSERVING AND REPORTING THE CHARACTERISTICS OF MARINAS, BOAT YARDS, AND OTHER MARINE FACILITIES THAT SERVICE SMALL NAUTICAL CRAFT.
- RANGES – DETERMINE THE ACCURACY OF CHARTED NAVIGATIONAL RANGES.
- DEPTH SURVEYS ‑ MEASURING AND REPORTING DEPTHS.
- COAST PILOT PUBLICATIONS ‑ REVIEWING THE COAST PILOT PUBLICATIONS AND REPORTING UPDATES TO THE TEXT AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
- BOATING GUIDE TO AMERICA – UPDATING AND EXPANDING GUIDE INFORMATION RELATED TO THE TAMPA AREA.