U.S. Releases Draft Arctic Charting Plan

NOAA vessel

Published Jul 16, 2015 7:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has invited public comment on the recently released draft 2015 edition of the U.S. Arctic Nautical Charting plan. The plan, a major effort to improve Arctic chart coverage that is inadequate for modern needs, was originally released in 2011. 

Comments are due by midnight, October 1, 2015.

“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, director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey. “Given the lack of emergency response infrastructure in remote Arctic waters, nautical charts are even more important to protect lives and fragile coastal areas.”

For the first time, the U.S. Arctic Nautical Charting Plan provides information about existing, recently added, and proposed new electronic navigational chart coverage in U.S. Arctic waters. Additionally, it provides information about progress on publishing new Arctic charts and specifications for eleven proposed new charts.

The proposed new charts outlined in the plan will complement existing chart coverage. Seven of the charts will fill gaps in medium-scale chart coverage from the Alaska Peninsula to Cape Lisburne at the edge of the North Slope. Other larger scale charts will provide for safer passage though the Etolin and Bering Straits and for entry into harbors such as Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States.

“It is heartening that NOAA is taking a proactive step towards improving the level of coverage and accuracy of their Arctic chart suite,” says Captain Duke Snider, polar navigator and CEO of Martech Polar Consulting. “Though areas frequented by historical traffic in both American and Canadian Arctic waters are reasonably charted for the most part, increased traffic outside of those “historical” routes is now and will in the future demand filling in the gaps that exist today.”

More information is available here.