The U.S. and Cuba Chart New Waters

The United States and Cuba have worked together to create a new international paper chart. And that’s big news!

According to NOAA, the chart—which covers south Florida, the Bahamas, and north Cuba—is “the first cooperative charting product between the [two countries] during the modern era.”

Memorandum of Understanding

This international charting effort is part of a broader agreement between the U.S. and Cuba, which aims to protect lives and property at sea. Here’s a bit of background.

In March 2016, the U.S. and Cuba signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU was signed in Havana by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, and Col. Candido Alfredo Regalado Gomez, Chief of Cuba’s National Office of Hydrography and Geodesy (OHG).

With the signing of the memorandum, NOAA and OHG aim to improve maritime navigation safety and related areas of mutual interest.

“Improved navigation services are important for commercial mariners and individual boaters alike,” said Ambassador DeLaurentis, “and it is particularly important as authorized trade and authorized travel increase between the two countries.”

A Focus on Electronic and Paper Charts

According to NOAA, a key aspect of the MOU is to improve maritime navigation safety by aligning each country’s charts. Specific efforts include:

  • Ensuring the accuracy of both electronic and paper charts
  • Eliminating charting overlaps
  • Filling in gaps in navigational chart coverage

But the MOU goes beyond improving domestic charts. As noted at the top of this blog, NOAA and OHG have worked together to create a new (and groundbreaking!) international chart as well.

According to NOAA, “the publication of the new international chart, along with alignment of U.S. and Cuba electronic navigational charts, will resolve many navigational issues as vessels move across the shared maritime border.”

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