Surveys for Navigational Safety

Hydrographic surveying is critical to assessing and maintaining navigational safety. Understanding all factors that affect the measurement of depth is critical to providing the mariner with a navigation product they can trust. Historically, hydrographic surveying’s primary purpose was the safety of navigation, and this is still relevant with increased size and frequency of shipping requiring more accurate and diverse information represented on the navigation chart.

Who is responsible for the safety of navigation?

Masters and officers in charge of a navigational watch are responsible for the safe navigation of their ships at all times, including when a pilot is on board. However, masters and officers in charge rely on the data and information provided by a hydrographic surveyor. If hydrographic information and data is not correctly collected, analysed, and processed, it could have serious implications and result in a navigation incident.

What services can PHS provide to ensure safety of navigation?

PHS can conduct high-resolution hydrographic surveys to collect data, both above and below the waterline about infrastructure assets. PHS can also install and maintain an extensive network of metocean (meteorological and oceanographic) equipment to increase awareness of tides, local weather factors and currents to improve safety on the water.

Our experience covers hydrographic surveys in ports and harbours, as well as large offshore areas for updating nautical charts. Surveys are conducted to international and local standards and specifications, and all surveys are accompanied by comprehensive reports and metadata. The information delivered will provide the user with confidence that the survey meets the requirements and understanding any limitations of the delivered data.

Bathymetric data we collect is also provided to the Australian Hydrographic Office (AHO) to update the official paper charts and the electronic navigational charts used for navigation.

Do you need to see changes to the seabed over time?

PHS can conduct hydrographic surveys over the same area/s at different times and generate difference models between these to show the changes over time.

A channel’s harbours and berth pockets can silt up from sediment washing from upstream or the natural coastal process of sediment movement settling in channels.

It is common for waterways to become blocked or compromised after major weather events. Debris and sediment from land can find their way into the ocean and change the depth. It is important to know about these changes to determine if or when action is required to maintain a safe depth.

Do you need to know the volume of material to be dredged and/or confirm how much material has been removed?

PHS can use the bathymetric data acquired by hydrographic surveys to calculate the volumes you need to know, either planned dredge volumes, or post dredge.


  • Facilitates dredging license applications
  • Can weigh the costs/benefits for different dredge depths


  • Survey report with required volumes
  • Chart showing the planned dredge area

Regular surveying of ports and harbours and/or coastal areas is essential to ensure the safety of navigation and maritime operations.

Contact us to understand how PHS can elevate your understanding and connection with the marine environment.