Government accesses UK’s underwater mapping program

The Head of Partnering and Engagement for the Caribbean region at the U.K. Hydrographic Office, Chris Thorne, third from left, leads a workshop on the latest data released by his office.

The Lands and Survey Department is getting a better feel for the local underwater topography of the region thanks to a seabed mapping program undertaken by the U.K. Hydrographic Office.

Members of the Hydrographic Office are currently in the Cayman Islands to deliver the results and explain their findings, and the program is expected to improve the safety of navigating in Cayman waters, according to a Lands and Survey Department press release.

The program will also enable the Cayman Islands to fulfill its international maritime obligations under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention. The Hydrographic Office seeks to improve maritime charts across the British Overseas Territories, and those efforts have been funded through the U.K.’s Conflict Stability and Security Fund.

The mapping project aims to collect and circulate nautical information to interested parties via the Maritime Safety Information System, and it hopes to identify and prioritize future areas to be surveyed. Finally, it seeks to publish new charts with data from the areas still to be surveyed.

The Hydrographic Office surveyed the waters west and south of Grand Cayman in 2017, and also conducted field work on the southwestern tip of Cayman Brac. The data from those surveys was released to the Lands and Survey Department at a workshop at the Government Administration Building on Tuesday.

“The reason for carrying out these surveys was the fact that the data on the current charts is old and does not meet modern standards for safety of navigation,” said Chris Thorne, the head of partnering and engagement at the Hydrographic Office for the Caribbean region.

“The new surveys using modern equipment ensures that we fully capture all of the features on the seabed and identify any dangers, as well as allowing other scientists to carry out research based on the information and to allow governments to use this data for planning for the future.”