Press Release

Office of the Governor
Marine Transport
Release Date:
Friday, 1 September 2017 - 10:30am

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has deployed a surveyboat and team to the waters of the British Virgin Islands, the organisation has announced.

The survey team will enable the production of accurate, modern navigational charts for ships using waters in the western part of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. State-of-the-art multibeam sonar equipment will be used to map key areas of the seabed. This information will also be used to update the ADMIRALTY Nautical Publication West Indies Pilot Volume 2 (NP71) Sailing Directions. These up-to-date charts and publication will dramatically improve the safety and efficiency of navigation in the territory’s waters, as well as helping to protect the environment.

The project is being undertaken as part of the UK Overseas Territories Seabed Mapping Programme (OTSMP) and funded by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). It is co-ordinated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and will be the most comprehensive seabed mapping survey of the western part of the Sir Francis Drake Channel to-date. The programme was funded by the UK Government as part of the UK’s commitment to support the Overseas Territories.

Alongside applications in improving safety and efficiency, the data can also be used to support other activities such as fisheries management and coastal inundation modelling.

Sam Harper, International Hydrographic Projects Manager at the UKHO said about the survey, “this activity represents a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the seafloor in the British Virgin Islands, which will be essential for unlocking the potential of the local Ocean Economy. As the Primary Charting Authority for the BVIs, this programme allows the UKHO to map key areas of interest to mariners, update the navigational charts and thus ensure the territory is fulfilling its international maritime safety obligations under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.

Besides enabling mariners to navigate the BVIs more safely, the new data will also give local stakeholders more tools to manage and protect their precious marine resources, in turn helping to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”.

The survey team will comprehensively map the western part of the Sir Francis Drake Channel over the course ofthe nextmonth, having just successfully completed similar surveys in Montserratian waters.


About the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO)

The UKHO is the UK’s agency providing hydrographic and marine geospatial data to mariners and maritime organisations across the world.

Supplying defence and the commercial shipping industry, we help ensure Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), protect the marine environment and support the efficiency of global trade.

Together with other national hydrographic offices and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), we work to set and raise global standards of hydrography, cartography and navigation.

Our market-leading portfolio of ADMIRALTY Maritime Products & Services is found on over 90% of the world’s ships trading internationally. Relied upon by mariners for over 200 years, our portfolio provides the most comprehensive range of SOLAS-compliant charts, publications and digital services to keep crews, cargo and ships safe.

As leaders in our field, our global reputation is based on the reliability of hydrographic and geospatial information, sourced and compiled by experts.

The UKHO is a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), allowing us to operate as a self-funding organisation in the digital era, and sustain our position in the long term.


Colene A. Penn

Head of Communications
Recovery and Development Agency
Tel: +1 (284) 345-2776 | Mobile: +1 (284) 345-3387