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Nautical Charts

Nautical charts provide basic navigational data for ships on lakes, seas, and oceans.They may also contain some data on ground features, landmarks, elevations, and information that can be used for other purposes. Generally, nautical charts show surface and underwater data that is related to navigation. Some topographical maps contain underwater data, however this is not useful for navigation as the measurements and details are more relative to the topographic theme of such maps.

Most nautical charts in the Map Collection are located under the U.S. Government, Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) numbering system, though a few charts are also located under Library of Congress call numbers. The charts may be located using the Libraries' Catalog, and then retrieving the desired chart from the map drawer.

Search Tip: When searching the Libraries' Catalog, you may find listings using the following search tip: Enter a subject search, beginning with the body of water or region followed by --navigation to locate related charts. The following is an example:

s = mediterranean sea--navigation

This will locate all nautical charts coverin the Mediterranean Sea.

Since many bodies of water are related to larger bodies, or to land masses, a subject search may not be appropriate. Then use a keyword search such as:

k = ontario lake and navigation

This will locate all charts on Lake Ontario.

Sample nautical charts

Thumbnail of Nautical chart of the Buffalo Harbor Nautical chart of the Buffalo Harbor--Niagara River area [Scale 1:80,000]. Approaches to Niagara River and Welland Canal. Portion of a chart produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (349 KB GIF image)
Call Number: US C 55.418/ 7: 14822/ 992.

Thumbnail of Nautical chart of Pulau Kangean Nautical chart of Pulau Kangean (Kangean Island) [Scale 1:497,000]. Eastern Portion of Jawa: including Madura, Bali and Lombok. Portion of a chart produced by the Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic/Topographic Center, U.S. Air Force. (147 KB JPGimage)
Call Number: US D 5.350: 72035.