Australian Hydrographic Service celebrates birthday

Published on Ms Melinda McMullen (author)

Location(s): Wollongong, NSW

Topic(s): Australian Hydrographic Service

Australian Hydrographic Service nautical cartographers reviewing chart during quality assurance process. (photo: Unknown)
Australian Hydrographic Service nautical cartographers reviewing chart during quality assurance process.

The first of October marks the 93rd anniversary of the Australian Hydrographic Service (AHS). First established in 1920, the AHS is the Commonwealth agency responsible for surveying and charting Australian waters.

The Australian Hydrographic Service is an element of the Royal Australian Navy. It is the national hydrographic authority responsible for the production and publication of nautical charts and hydrographic information to enable safe navigation of all ships in Australia’s waters.

“With diligence and skill, the hard work and dedication of this small group of committed specialists and support staff has achieved much for the Navy and the Nation over its 93 year history, surveying and charting over 30,000kms of coastline and participating in key military activities,” said Commodore Brett Brace.

For over 90 years the AHS has been a world leader in hydrographic and cartographic innovation. From the introduction of laser airborne depth sounding in 1992, to the development of a Digital Hydrographic Database; moving to an in-house Print on Demand charting service, and more recently the completion of the Electronic Navigational Chart coverage of Australian waters, the AHS continues to strive for new and more efficient and cost-effective ways to meet its surveying and charting obligations.

This small but important group directly supports safety of life at sea, protection of the marine environment and enables maritime trade.

The Royal Australian Navy operates six hydrographic survey ships and a laser airborne depth sounder aircraft. The output of these units contributes to the navigational safety products produced by the Australian Hydrographic Service.

The Australian Hydrographic Service headquarters is in Wollongong, NSW. From there they construct and publish Australia’s official paper nautical charts, electronic navigational charts, nautical publications such as tide tables and the seafarer’s handbook for Australian waters. More than 200,000 nautical products are distributed by the Australian Hydrographic Service each year.

Australian Hydrographic Service data management staff reviewing hydrographic records.

Australian Hydrographic Service data management staff reviewing hydrographic records.