The Navy's hydrographic activities go back to the Royal Ceylon Navy time. The British Royal Navy introduced the subject & continued on re-surveys in the early days, some of those data are still used in present day charts.
The first recorded survey by the Ceylon Navy was done in 1962/1963 when the Navy under took hydrographic surveys for the Pulmudai Mineral Sand Corporation using conventional means. The data collected was used for the nautical charting as well as for the construction of the pier and approaches to it. In 1967 Navy started to send officers for the Basic Hydrographiccourse in Indian National Hydrographic School, which was at Cochin at that time. The Naval Hydrographic Branch was established on 19th January 1970, and the first officer to head it was then Lieutenant Justin Jayasooriya, who later rose to become the Chief of Staff.
The Naval Hydrographic Branch was involved heavily in delineation of the maritime boundary between India & Sri Lanka in 1972 and some of those technical issues observed by the Indian Hydrographers (Head by then Commander Frazer of theNavy) were later used in making the 1982 UNCLOS & subsequent TALOS.
On 13th March 1984, as a national effort, the National Hydrographic Office (NHO) was established under the National Aquatic Resources Agencies (NARA) with the Navy's hydrographic equipments, and the Navy as a partner to head the Operational branch.
Today, the Navy had re-activated the hydrographic capabilities in an integrated approach, which will be beneficial to the nation. The Navy intends to extend its expertise to institutions like universities, Telecom & Petroleum Corporation thus pooling the resources for better productivity
Establishing base points in the Northern part of the island for demarcation of straight baselines for Sri Lanka, under the United Nations convention on the law of the sea
At the request of the DEOCOM (Delineation of Outer Continental Margin) Project Office, the Hydographic Unit of the Sri Lanka Navy planned and executed the base point measurement survey successfully from 14th to 17th November 2004.
The entire survey was a joint effort involving the Survey General Department, National Hydrohraphic Office & DEOCOM office. During the survey three survey teams simultaneously observed selected base points from Point Pedro to Talaimannar. Apart from the survey, beach sampling, station recording & establishing new permanent markings were also done during the period.
The survey teams also visited the islands in the Northern part of the country for establishing base points since this is the first time the country was surveyed for such purposes. The survey General Department kept their base station operating for the entire duration hence the survey was completed with highest accuracy using the modern survey techniques and processing means.
A survey team setting one of the GPS observation station in one of the sand islets at the Adems Bridge
Navy boat crew try their best to keep the boat from broaching in the sand bars. The environment is very peculiar & unpredictable in the sand bars, and it is intended to conduct a survey/study of area very soon
The survey team each comprising Naval hydrographers, land surveyors, geologists, civilian hydrograpers and survey recorders were able to cover the planned activities as per the schedule and expressed their appreciation to the Navy for the facilities provided. A joint effort of this magnitude was an eye opener they said, of what an integrated approach could achieve in fulfilling national requirements.