United Kingdom Hydrographic Office
|United Kingdom Hydrographic Office|
|Minister responsible||Mark Francois|
|Agency executives||Rear Admiral (Ret) Ian Moncrieff, CBE, Chief Executive
Rear Admiral Tom Karsten, Deputy Chief Executive
|Parent agency||Ministry of Defence|
The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (or UKHO) is an organisation within the UK government responsible for providing navigational and other hydrographic information for national, civil and defence requirements. The UKHO is located in Taunton, Somerset on Admiralty Way and has a workforce of approximately 1000 staff.
The office is an Executive Agency, and Trading Fund, of the Ministry of Defence and is directly responsible to the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare & Veterans. The current minister is Mark Francois, MP. The Chief Executive of the agency is Ian Moncrieff, BA, CBE who took over in October 2011. The agency is self-funding and its Trading Fund status allows protection of the copyright in its publications.
Rear-Admiral Tom Karsten is the current UK National Hydrographer and Deputy Chief Executive (Hydrography). He took up the post in December 2012.
The UK Hydrographic Office has been charting the world’s oceans for more than 200 years with the primary aim of providing navigational products and services for the Royal Navy and merchant mariners to save and protect lives at sea. In addition it serves small craft and leisure mariners and provides a range of consultancy services. UKHO also plays a central role, in support of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, in discharging the navigation element of the UK’s Safety of Life at Sea Treaty obligations for waters of UK national responsibility.
The office produces a worldwide series of some 3,300 paper nautical charts, 160 publications under the ADMIRALTY brand and Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs). The ADMIRALTY portfolio is sold globally and used by nearly 70% of international shipping.The UKHO launched the Admiralty Vector Chart Series in April 2008 and the e-Navigator Service in 2009, which brings together all of the information needed for safe navigation, voyage planning and efficient fleet management in one place.
- 1 History
- 2 Timeline
- 3 List of hydrographers and executives
- 4 Publications
- 5 Access to data
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Admiralty's first Hydrographer was Alexander Dalrymple, appointed in 1795 on the order of King George III and in the next year the existing charts were brought together and catalogued. The first chart the Admiralty produced (of Quiberon Bay in Brittany) did not appear until 1800.
Dalrymple was succeeded on his death in 1808 by Captain Thomas Hurd, under whose stewardship the department was given permission to sell charts to the public. Hurd oversaw the first production of "Sailing Directions" in 1829 and the first catalogue in 1825 with 736 charts. Rear-Admiral Sir W. Edward Parry was appointed Hydrographer in 1823 after his second expedition to discover a Northwest Passage. In 1829, at the age of 55, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort became Hydrographer. During this time, he developed his eponymous Scale and saw the introduction of official tide tables in 1833 and the first "Notices to Mariners" in 1834. By the time of Beaufort's retirement in 1855, the Chart Catalogue listed 1,981 charts and 64,000 copies of them had been issued to the Royal Navy.
In the 1930s the collection of oceanographic and naval meteorological data started. At the start of the Second World War chart printing moved to Taunton but the main office did not move until 1968. Metrication of charts began in 1967 while digitisation started in the 1980s. "Admiralty Raster Chart Service" began to be produced in 1996 and in 2000 online services were started. In April 2008 the UKHO launched its AVCS (Admiralty Vector Chart Service) which aims to get round the inability of many smaller hydrographic offices to produce electronic charts by incorporating them into the Admiralty service.
Originally data was mainly collected using ordinary Royal Navy ships. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey vessel was launched; HMS Vidal. The current ships form the "Hydrographic Squadron". The use of the echo sounder and other electronic equipment in the 20th century saw a big increase in the quantity and quality of the data collected.
Under the Public Records Act 1958, UKHO became an authorised 'place of deposit' which has given it the responsibility of maintaining its own archive. Its documents date from 1755. Its prime customer is the Royal Navy for which it produces hydrographic, oceanographic and geophysical products and services. The UKHO also produces a range of outputs for the leisure market. It collects tidal information from around the world and publishes the "Admiralty Tide Tables" (in 4 volumes) and provides an online service called "Easytide".
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- 1795 - Hydrographic Office established by an Order in Council by George III. The Hydrographer to the Honourable East India Company, Alexander Dalrymple FRS, is appointed as Hydrographer to the Admiralty Board.
- 1800 - First chart produced by the Hydrographic Office, of Quiberon Bay, Brittany, is only issued to Royal Navy vessels involved in blockading operations.
- 1819 - Captain Hurd enters into a bi-lateral agreement with Denmark to exchange charts and publications covering areas of mutual interest. This is thought to be the earliest arrangement for the mutual supply of information between the British and any foreign Hydrographic Office.
- 1821 - Hydrographic Office charts are offered for sale, for the first time, to the general public through a series of chart agents.
- 1828 - Captain Parry and the Royal Society organise a scientific voyage, in collaboration with the Hydrographers of France and Spain, using HMS Chanticleer.
- 1831 - Captain Beaufort informs Captain FitzRoy that he has found a savant for the latter’s surveying voyage to South America, Charles Darwin.
- 1855 - The mutual exchange of notice mariners established between Great Britain and the United States of America.
- 1872-76 - HMS Challenger’s global scientific cruise is supported by the Hydrographic Service.
- 1883 - Krakatoa explodes and a British survey vessel, HMS Magpie, under Captain Hon FHP Vereker is one of the first vessels to record the devastation.
- 1884 - International Meridian Conference is held in October in Washington, D.C., to determine a prime meridian for international use.
- 1889 - An International Marine Conference is held at Washington, D.C., and it is proposed to establish a “permanent international commission” concerning hydrographic matters.
- 1907 - Ernest Shackleton in the Nimrod, of the British Antarctic Expedition, is lent instruments from the Hydrographic Office (chart and vessel pictured below).
- 1912 - RMS Titanic is lost in the North Atlantic. As a result of this tragedy the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention is established, as well as the introduction of ice reporting and forecasting.
- 1914-18 - During the war the Hydrographic Office produces numerous new charts and products to support the Royal Navy.
- 1919 - First International Hydrographic Conference is held in London. The British Hydrographic Office takes the lion’s share of the organisation and hosts representatives from nations across the globe - Argentina, Belgian Congo, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Siam, Sweden, & USA.
- 1919 - Paul Langévin invented the first sonar type device for detecting submarines called an “echo location to detect submarines” using the piezoelectric properties of the quartz.
- 1921 - International Hydrographic Office, an intergovernmental consultative and technical organization, is established to support safety of navigation and the protection of the marine environment.
- 1931 - Licence given to Henry Hughes & Co to manufacture the Admiralty echo-sounder.
- 1941 - The Hydrographic production facility at Taunton, known as Creechbarrow House, is opened in June. This is the first purpose-built chart production factory built in Great Britain.
- 1944 - The hydrographic service is stretched to the limit producing tens of thousands of extra charts for the invasion of Europe.
- 1949 - A survey training unit is established at Chatham, Kent.
- 1953 - First purpose-built survey vessel, HMS Vidal, is launched.
- 1955 - Over 2,5000,000 charts were printed for issue to the Fleet or sale to Merchant shipping and the general public.
- 1961 - A Chart Users’ Advisory Panel is established to advise the Hydrographer on charting requirements.
- 1967 - Program of metricating Admiralty charts is begun.
- 1967 - The first Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) is introduced in the Dover Strait.
- 1968 - Compilation staff transfer from Cricklewood to Taunton bringing together the main elements of the Hydrographic Office. A purpose-built office, named after Alexander Dalrymple, is opened.
- 1971 - The department embarks on a large programme of computerisation.
- 1977- First commercial use of multibeam survey technology.
- 1987 - HMS Bulldog undertakes the first sidescan sonar of Mounts Bay, Cornwall.
- 1996 - Admiralty Raster Charts (ARCS) launched on CD-ROM. The UKHO becomes a trading fund within the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The International Hydrographic Office (IHO) agree a product specification for Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs).
- 1997 - The UKHO produces its first ENC.
- 2003 - The first recorded use of LIDAR to correct Admiralty charts (west coast of Scotland).
- 2008 - Admiralty Vector Chart Service (AVCS) launched.
- 2009 - e-Navigator Service is launched.
- 2013 - Print On Demand (POD) goes live with distributors.
List of hydrographers and executives
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Hydrographers to the Admiralty Board (1808-1904)
- Alexander Dalrymple Esq (1737 – 1808) FRS, 13 August 1795 – 27 May 1808
- Captain Thomas Hurd (c.1746 – 1823), 28 May 1808 – 29 April 1823
- Captain William Edward Parry 1823-1829
- Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort (1774 – 1857) KCB DCL FRS, 19 May 1829 – 28 January 1855
- Rear-Admiral John Washington (1800 – 1863) FRS, 25 January 1855 – 16 September 1863
- Rear-Admiral George Henry Richards (1820 – 1896) CB FRS, 19 September 1863 – 2 February 1874
- Captain Sir Frederick J O Evans (1815 – 1885) KCB FRS, 25 January 1874 – 31 July 1884
- Rear-Admiral Sir William J L Wharton (1843 – 1905) KCB FRS, 1 August 1884 – 31 July 1904
- Rear-Admiral A Mostyn Field (1855 – 1950) FRS, 1 August 1904 – 15 August 1909
- Rear-Admiral Herbert E Purey-Cust (1857 – 1938) CB, 16 August 1909 – 30 August 1914
- Rear-Admiral Sir John F Parry (1863 – 1926) KCB, 31 August 1914 – 31 August 1919
- Vice-Admiral Frederick C Learmonth (1866 – 1941) CB CBE, 1 September 1919 – 30 September 1924
- Vice-Admiral Henry P Douglas (1876 – 1939) CB CMG, 1 October 1924 – 30 September 1932
- Vice-Admiral Sir John A Edgell (1880 – 1962) KBE CB FRS, 1 October 1932 – 30 April 1945
- Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur G N Wyatt (1893 – 1981) CB KBE DSO, 1 May 1945 – 11 June 1950
- Vice-Admiral Sir Archibald Day (1899 – 1970) KBE CB DSO, 12 June 1950 – 12 June 1955
- Rear-Admiral Kenneth St B Collins (1904 – 1982) CB OBE DSC, 13 June 1955 – 6 July 1960
- Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund G Irving (1910 – 1990) KBE CB, 7 July 1960 – 14 January 1966
- Rear-Admiral George Stephen Ritchie (1914 – 2012) CB DSC, 15 January 1966 – 5 February 1971
- Rear-Admiral Geoffrey P D Hall (1916 – 2005) CB DSC, 6 February 1971 – 11 September 1975
- Rear-Admiral Sir David W Haslam (1923 – 2009) KBE CB, 12 September 1975 – 1 February 1985
- Rear-Admiral Roger O Morris CB, 2 February 1985 – 22 February 1990
- Rear-Admiral John A L Myres CB, 23 February 1990 – 16 February 1994
- Rear-Admiral Nigel R Essenhigh, 17 February 1994 – 1 February 1996;
- Rear-Admiral John P Clarke CB LVO MBE, 2 February 1996 – 5 January 2001
Chief Executives (2001-present)
- Dr. Wynford Williams, 6 January 2001 – 19 July 2006
- Mr Mike Robinson, 19 July 2006 – October 2011
- Rear Admiral (Ret) Ian Moncrieff CBE, October 2011 – present
Most UKHO publications are available in both paper and online versions. Publications include charts, nautical publications and astronomical publications. Notable nautical publications include Admiralty Sailing Directions (Pilots, 74 volumes), Admiralty Tide Tables (4 volumes), Admiralty List of Radio Signals (6 volumes), Admiralty List of Lights and Fog Signals (10 volumes) and more. Notable astronomical publications include The Nautical Almanac and The Astronomical Almanac among others.
Access to data
As with the Ordnance Survey for land mapping, the UK Hydrographic Office is the part of government with responsibility for charting the seas. It is part of the Ministry of Defence and operates as a Trading Fund, enabling it to be self-funding through sale of products and licensing of data.
These issues are very different to those of the Ordnance Survey where data is gathered at public expense: the UKHO sources much of its information from foreign governments to whom it pays royalty fees funded by the profits it makes.
The UKHO has six different licences, according to the use of the product. Whilst it generally allows use for non-navigational, non-commercial or low value purposes free of charge (over 80% of licences), where licensing is for use in a commercial product, a licence fee is charged. The UKHO is committed to the Information Fair Traders Scheme and makes available for re-use those data that are collected as part of its Public Task, which do not include third party Intellectual Property Rights.
In the Information Fair Trader Scheme Report on the UKHO in April 2011 it states that the UKHO data will not be included in the Public Data Corporation to make government owned data more freely available (part 3, item 29), but it does recommend that the “UKHO should consider the introduction of a Free Navigational Licence" for non-commercial or low value use, consistent with its treatment of non-navigational use. (part 3, item 37)
- The official UKHO web site The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office
- The official Admiralty web site Admiralty products and services from the UKHO
- Admiralty Easytide, Admiralty's online tidal prediction service
- UKHO information at the BBC Weather's web site