The hydrographic department of the Indian Navy has been quietly evolving over centuries, hand in hand with sea travel. While the early sailors navigated their ships, discovering routes by trial and error and documenting their precious information on closely guarded maps, the art of discovering safe routes grew into the highly specialised branch of hydrography. Kick started by the colonial businessmen, the department turned into a veritable hive of activity with the Indian Navy coming into its own in independent India. Today, having achieved the status of the National Hydrographic Office, its role of looking out for the safety of mariners has expanded from a national to an international role one of helping the world community.

The Indian Naval Hydrographic Department (INHD) was erstwhile Marine Survey of India established in 1874 at Kolkata. Post independence the department continued to carry out its functions under the supervision of Surveyor-in-Charge of Marine Survey of India. On 01Jun 1954, the Marine Survey of India was relocated to its present Office at Dehradun and was renamed Naval Hydrographic Office. The Surveyor-in-Charge, Marine Survey of India was designated as the Chief Hydrographer of the Navy. In keeping with growing responsibilities the Chief Hydrographer was redesignated as the Chief Hydrographer to the Govt. of India in 1964.The Office in recognition of its national mandate and international stature was rechristened as National Hydrographic Office In 1997.

National Hydrographic Office is the National Authority for publication of nautical charts and publications. The Department has a fleet of eight surveying vessels which are well equipped with modern surveying instruments capable of collecting hydrographic data in tune with the modern surveying standards and specifications laid down by IHO. The digital data recorded by our ships and units undergo rigorous verification for Quality Control before it is provided to mariners in the form of Nautical Charts and Publications.

The ever increasing global character of hydrography and its growing potential as a force multiplier in terms of maritime diplomacy has resulted in the broadening of INHDs role and responsibilities. MoUs have been signed for cooperation in the field of hydrography with friendly neighbouring nations and considering the hydrographic capacity of India, other countries in IOR have also approached INHD for their capacity building and sought assistance in various facets through hydrographic co-operation.