The Cooperative Charting Program began in 1963 with a Memorandum Of Agreement between USPS and what is now the National Ocean Service (NOS), National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Department of Commerce.
This agreement has been updated several times and will continue to serve well into the future with further updates.
WHAT IS COOPERATIVE CHARTING?
Cooperative Charting is the name of the program of civic service performed by the United States Power Squadrons (USPS) in cooperation with the National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Program is conducted and administered cooperatively by the Marine Chart Division of the National Ocean Service (NOS) and the national USPS Cooperative Charting Committee.
The Program is a major public service of USPS. Under it, USPS members supply information to the Marine Chart division of NOS leading to the production "of accurate and up-to-date nautical and aeronautical charts" and related publications, and the preservation of geodetic control stations in the National Geodetic Reference System.
Cooperative Charting is recognized as the most effective user-participation program in all of the Federal services.
WHAT TYPES OF CIVIC SERVICE ARE PERFORMED?
The Program provides a variety of services in support of our nation's charting authority! We supply information and corrections to nautical charts, small craft charts, Coast Pilot publications, depth surveys, tidal currents and related documents. We also supply information on tidal currents and depth surveys.
As a service to mariners, NOS acts as a clearing house on USPS boating related reports such as non-functioning aids to navigation (maintained by the USCG), cable crossings (monitored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), and corrections to other agencies' charts and maps ( such as the Defense Mapping Agency, Corps of Engineers, and others).
In addition, because of our success in those efforts, other parts of NOS/NOAA have for many years requested our services, such as the National Geodetic Service (which maintains a database of land-based coordinates [marks] for chart and mapmaking, etc), the Office of Earth Science ( which produces the tide and current books we all use), and Aeronautical Charting (which is related to civil and commercial aviation) now under another agency.
HOW BIG IS OUR CIVIC EFFORT?
It has been estimated that each year USPS contributes an estimated value of service to the U.S. Government of $15 to $20 million of effort through our reporting program. In a time of continually decreasing NOAA budgets, this figure could increase as requests for our services grow and NOAA resources shrink.
HOW DOES USPS EFFORTS IN THIS PROGRAM BENEFIT THE PUBLIC?
USPS members act as field observers for NOAA. They are uniquely suited to this role because of the outstanding education and training they receive through the USPS educational program. As the number of official NOAA observers decrease through budget stringency's, USPS members report on many items that would otherwise go undetected and unreported. Many of these reports are of a critical nature requiring immediate distribution through the Coast Guard's broadcasted and published 'Local Notice To Mariners'.
Without these USPS observations, many hazards would go undetected until tragedy strikes through a nautical mishap. Thus, USPS members save lives and property, as well as furthering boating safety through these efforts to improve the quality of our nations charts. The Cooperative Charting Program is a highly successful, public service effort dedicated to the advancement of safety on the water for both the boating public and USPS members.