IHO invites your feedback on Draft S-44 Edition 6

30 July 2019

In 2008, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) published the 5th Edition of its Standards for Hydrographic Surveys (S-44). Hydrographic technology and methodologies have evolved considerably since that time. In 2017, recognising the need to revise and update the publication, the IHO Hydrographic Services and Standards Committee (HSSC) established the HSSC Project Team on Standards for Hydrographic Surveys (HSPT), tasked with reviewing and then revising S-44. 

As part of this work, and with assistance from the International Federation of Hydrographic Societies (IFHS), the HSPT conducted an online questionnaire which gauged the views of S-44 users, stakeholders and the wider hydrographic community. Now, the IHO has asked for our help once again; this time, to collate comments and feedback our national societies and our individual and corporate members on the Draft S-44 Edition 6.

It is hoped that this revised version of S-44 will have relevance beyond the traditional safety of navigation surveys conducted by or on behalf of national Hydrographic Offices. The HSPT are, therefore, keen to hear the views of the widest possible cross-section of survey practitioners, including those involved in surveys for ports and harbours, renewables, cables and pipelines, oil and gas, dredging and those using remotely operated vehicles and remote sensors for surveys.

The Chair of the HSPT reports that the entire document has been rewritten with the aim of preserving the philosophy of previous editions as well as updating the content. Notable differences include:

  • The abandonment of the specification line spacing in favour of bathymetric coverage. It is now explicitly stated that the Special order and 1a both must achieved full bathymetric coverage
  • Because the shipping industry considers the depth range of 0 to 50m significant for surface navigation, the maximum depth for 2m cubic detection feature is now 50m for Order 1a
  • The split of Table 1 into two tables now makes it possible to separate the requirements for bathymetric surveys from those for surveys above the vertical chart datum
  • The use of a vocabulary in accordance with metrology expectations with the objective of achieving a harmonized comprehension of all terms and methodologies
  • The creation of a chapter dedicated to metadata to provide clearer and more comprehensive guidance on data to allow wider use of resultant datasets
  • The addition of an annex dedicated to a Matrix concept. The Matrix presents different criteria (rows) and specification values (columns). This tool should be considered as an aid for, on the one hand, choosing the specifications for a survey a priori according to the customer requirements and intended use, and, on the other hand, to allow a more quantitative analyst and assessment of the resultant data quality of the survey a posteriori. Special Orders, 1a, 1b and 2 are identified in the matrix, and other survey specifications can also be extracted from the matrix
  • The addition of an annex dedicated to gridded bathymetry considerations. These latter annexes are not an integral part of the S-44 Standards and it is intended that they will be removed when the information contained is fully incorporated into IHO Publication C-13
  • The document is intended to be technologically agnostic

To assist with your appraisal of the draft, HSSC Project Team members Iain Slade (UK) and Jean-Guy Nistad (Germany), who are also both active within IFHS, have kindly offered to answer any queries you may have.


Please forward your views to IFHS, by email to helen@hydrographicsociety.org, by Friday 18th October 2019.


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