Earth is covered with a proportion of 70 percent of water and 30 percent of land which signifies that water is an essential constituent for all living things. This proportion of water on Earth can be seen in the form of oceans, seas, rivers, lakes etc. Humans, being curious in nature have always strived for exploring this universe which has led them to discover the secrets of space, other planets and the world deep into the sea. Scientists and experts still believe that there is a little known about the seas and yet there is a lot more to explore.
Hydrography deals with collecting depth of sea and leading towards mapping of rivers, lakes and oceans. It also gives information about seafloor in the form of typical nautical charts or maps that show depth and other features and information such as rocks, underwater obstructions, wrecks etc to support safe navigation. The modern hydrography has become capable of providing milli metric accuracy in depth and position measurements.
Pakistan Navy is a four dimensional force and is playing its role not only in defense of the country but also in various other fields. Concerted efforts of various departments of Pakistan Navy which are contributing in the field of Hydrography are worth mentioning. Pakistan Navy Hydrographic Department (PNHD) is playing its prime role in fulfilling the international obligation of undertaking Hydrographic Surveys and production of Hydrographic charts in a befitting manner. It also represents Pakistan on all national and international hydrographic forums. Apart from publishing traditional charts, PNHD Charting Center is also producing state of the art electronic charts as per international standards. These electronic charts play central role in today’s automated electronic navigation concept. Pakistan Navy Hydrography School trains officers and men of not only Pakistan but also other Allied countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Azerbaijan and Nigeria.
Pakistan plays an important role in International Hydrographic Organizations (IHO) and Regional Hydrographic Commissions (RHCs). RHCs include ROPME Sea Area Hydrographic Commission comprising of Gulf countries and North Indian Ocean Hydrographic Commission. Pakistan has remained Chairman of ROPME Sea Area Hydrographic Commission in the recent past.
Pakistan’s only Hydrographic cum Oceanographic Vessel in the country i.e. SV BEHR PAIMA vessel has played a pivotal role in comprehensive surveys of the coastal and deep waters of the country. This vessel was acquired from Japan in 1982. The vessel has a long history for supporting Oceanographic scientific research cruises in collaboration with various national organizations. Pakistan, in collaboration with China has also ordered for the construction of another state of the art survey ship, which will soon be inducted in Pakistan Navy fleet.
Moreover, to honour international commitment for safety of mariners at sea, PNHD is also shouldering the responsibility as Coordinator of NAVAREA-IX since 1976. NAVAREA-IX consists of 16 countries of Gulf and Red Sea region. Information regarding safety and security of the vessel transiting in the area is transmitted to give timely information to the mariners. This is indeed a great honour for Pakistan which shows trust of the world community on capabilities and professionalism of Pakistan Navy Hydrographic Department.
Most of the world trade is carried out by sea which requires safe navigation for merchant ships for trade and maritime security operations. Initial surveys and feasibility studies by the department laid foundation for development of Port Qasim, Gwadar, Ormara, Chalna (East Pakistan, Bangladesh) etc. Apart from hydrographic surveys at sea, PN hydrographs have also conducted various inland surveys of dams for storage capacity and River Indus survey to support future studies of inland water transportation project. In addition, PN Hydrographs have earned good repute for providing survey facilities to Seychelles (Off East Africa) in 2009 under ambit of IHO. PN Hydrography department has played pivotal role along with National Institute of Oceanography towards securing 50,000 square kilometers of continental Shelf area through a claim at UN.
Despite meager resources and difficult survey environments, PN Hydrographic Department has indirectly contributed considerably towards national economy, trade, marine research, maritime security, conflict resolution with neighbouring countries, awareness of policy makers and stakeholders towards maritime issues.