1. The Hydrographic Department of the Indian Navy derives its origin from the charting activities of the British East India Company, way back in the17th century. John and Samuel Thornton, Hydrographers to the East India Company compiled the first chart and Sailing Directions for the Indian Ocean in 1703. During the next two centuries, the captains of the ships of the East India Company went on to pioneer the charting of the Eastern seas extending from Red Sea to Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, across the Indian Ocean right up to the China Seas. On the dissolution of the East India Company, the Indian Marine Survey Department was established at Calcutta in 1874, which became a part of the Royal Indian Marine in 1882.
  2. India became independent in 1947 and the Department continued to carry out its functions under the supervision of Surveyor-in-Charge of Marine Survey of India from Bombay. On 01 Jun 1954, the Marine Survey Office was relocated to its present address at Dehradun and was renamed as the Naval Hydrographic Office, and the Surveyor-in-Charge, Marine Survey of India was designated as the Chief Hydrographer of the Navy. In keeping with the growing national responsibilities the designation of the Chief Hydrographer was redesignated as the Chief Hydrographer to the Govt. of India in 1964. Accordingly, the Naval Hydrographic Office was re-christened in 1997 as the National Hydrographic Office in recognition of its national stature and increasing international role. The Indian Naval Hydrographic Department (INHD) has thus completed over 300 years of hydrographic surveying in Indian waters and the National Hydrographic Office celebrated 60 years of dedicated service to marine safety in the Indian Ocean on 26 Aug 2014.
  3. National Hydrographic Office is the National Authority for publication of nautical charts and publications. Over 90% of the world trade takes place through the sea and with removal of trade barriers; the volume of trade is ever increasing. As part of International responsibilities this office provides coverage for marine safety information in the NAVREA VIII region in accordance with IHO publication S-53 Joint IMO/IHO/ WMO manual on Maritime Safety Information, comprising of Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
  4. Over the years the sea trade has increased manifold and deeper draught vessels which can afford additional cargo with increased tonnage are being regularly employed, thereby the margin of safety for under keel allowance is continuously reducing. This has placed enormous demand on more accurate and up to date Hydrographic information. The Department has a fleet of eight surveying vessels including seven ocean going survey vessels and one catamaran hull survey vessel. These ships are well equipped with modern surveying instruments and digital data logging systems capable of collecting hydrographic data in adherence 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 (ENCs). As the dissemination of marine safety information is very vital, National Hydrographic Office promulgates maritime safety information the Navigational Warnings round the clock through Global Maritime Distress and Safety Services (GMDSS) via International Maritime Satellites.
  5. Information technology applications to Hydrographic products and services have led to major developments in the world of Hydrography. One is satellite based Maritime Safety information updating service. The other is Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) using the IMO type approved Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). ENC/ECDIS is a cutting edge product of information technology applied to maritime navigation, and is part of the global movement of most human activity towards progressive adaptation of the galloping Information Technology. It is an intelligent and dynamic navigational information system designed to increase the safety and efficiency of navigation at sea.
  6. On the International scenario, India is an active and influential member of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), Monaco and has representation on its various committees. INHD fully supports the work programmes of the IHO, especially in developing regional expertise, and capacity building in Hydrographic Surveying and nautical charting in the littoral region. With experience and expertise in Hydrography coupled with modern instrumentation, India plays a vital role on the International Hydrographic scene, where it promotes India’s maritime interests notably on the issues of standards for global charts, Strategic Planning and Work Programmes of IHO and Global Maritime Distress and Safety Services (GMDSS). The Department plays an active role in promoting hydrographic cooperation in the region through the North Indian Ocean Hydrographic Commission (NIOHC) of the IHO.
  7. Since past many decades National Hydrographic Office, Dehradun is involved in systematic and standardised collection of geospatial data pertaining to coastal configuration, depth of the sea in the areas of National Interest, seabed composition, wreck investigations, tide current and physical properties of water column, aids to navigation, marine traffic, etc. The data collected by the fleet of survey ships, is subjected to standardised processing for creation of databases to be used in marine environment preservation, exploitation of marine resources, definition of maritime boundaries (Law of the sea implementation) and scientific studies of sea and coastal zone. Periodic updating of these databases continues through latest surveys. The office produces standard navigational charts and nautical publications as per conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO). Since past few years, this department has been producing digital charts in the form of Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC) in accordance with specifications of IHO for use in the Electronic Navigation Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) through a licensing system. The ENC, the database for ECDIS, is of high significance for the GIS application in the marine and scientific fields related to coastal, near shore zones, seas and oceans and are widely used by Mariners, Researchers, Scientists, Cartographers, Environmentalists, etc.
  8. The Chief Hydrographer to the Govt. of India is the coordinator for INT chart scheming Area “J” in the North Indian Ocean. The various nautical/navigational products produced by the Department are made available to the mariners through the Naval Chart Depots located at Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. The increasing usage of the products and services by the users is ample proof of the significance of the Organisation.
  9. Hydrographic products and services have gone beyond the traditional scope of marine transport. Path breaking advances in Ocean Technologies in the past few decades, gave an impetus to industrisalisation and exploitation of the Coastal and Offshore Zones. This in turn also led to environmental concerns for these zones. All these developments have added many new dimensions to value added hydrographic products and services. Beyond the traditional ‘Safety of Navigation’; demands on Hydrography today, include Engineering Studies for Coastal infrastructure development, Offshore hydro-carbon and Ocean energy exploitation, Pollution Control and a wide range of Coastal Zone Regulation issues. The Indian National Hydrographic Office, Dehradun, has been contributing significantly to the march of India’s coastal development by meeting these survey demands to world standards. Thus, besides providing the standard products and services for the maritime community, the Department also provides customised products to various national agencies and research organisations related to ocean sciences and offshore resource exploration and exploitation. The thorough examination of wrecks along the coastal waters of India has also been one of the major activities undertaken by the Department. The Department actively assists in sea truthing programmes at sea for various scientific organisations.
  10. The Indian Naval Hydrographic Department under Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar, NM the Chief Hydrographer to the Govt. of India, is committed to the national obligation for greater marine safety surveys under international conventions and national regulations, and providing quality value added products and services to meet the diverse users needs towards sustainable development of the oceans in the 21 st century.