Geo Message (September 2011)

Inside SSSI

Hydrography Commission National Committee

Nominations for the Hydrography Commission National Committee (HCNC) were called for and closed on the 26 August 2011.  We would like to welcome some new members to the committee; Michael Beard (ACT), Neil Farrant (WA), Owen Cantrill (QLD), Paul Downie (VIC) and Simon Allen (TAS).


There is currently no representative for the Northern Territory Region and still some casual vacancies in regions with only one representative.  If you would like to be involved with the committee, please email for more details.


The HCNC holds meetings at quarterly intervals each year, mainly by tele-conference, with at least one face-to-face meeting held at an annual SSSI, Trans Tasman or affiliated international conference where possible.  The next face-to-face meeting of the HCNC is on Friday 11th November in Fremantle, after the Hydro 2011 conference.




Hydrography in Australia - A History

When the Australasian Hydrographic Society (AHS) attained autonomy and changed from being merely a Branch of "The Hydrographic Society", they set out to establish a means of hydrographic surveyor certification in the region.  When all aspects of the scheme had been defined and settled, the Institution of Surveyors Australia (ISA) was approached to see if they would take it under their umbrella to administer.  The reason for this approach is that the ISA was a professional, administering body, with professional practising restrictions and very significantly - an insurance backing.  This would prove key in the event of court action from any applicant who was denied recognition through lack of qualification.  In contrast, the AHS is a Learned Society, with membership outside practising, professional hydrographers (for example, its Australia on the Map Division which is a significant body interested in the history of Australian mapping and charting).


The whole matter of establishing acceptable qualification standards for the practice of Hydrography in Australasia, arose from an approach to the AHS by the Sydney Ports Hydrographic Surveyors in the 1980s.  At the time, Sydney Ports were wasting time on unqualified applicants for employment and unacceptable hydrographic work being submitted by unqualified persons, including Registered Land Surveyors who had believed that their State cadastral registration enabled them to practice as hydrographic surveyors as well.


Apart from a Category B course run by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), there was no formal, civilian education available for Hydrography in Australasia.  Ron Whitmore was approached by the University of NSW (UNSW) to formulate a Hydro Syllabus and start an uncertified Hydro module in the B.Surv course at the UNSW in 1975.  This module is described as "uncertified" because it was before the introduction of the FIG/IHO "Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors" and CAT A and Cat B qualification. This was the first civilian, formal Hydrography course available in Australasia.  This was followed by another uncertified module in the B.Surv course at Curtin University in Perth.


In the early 1980s, a Category A course was started at the newly founded and magnificently equipped Australian Maritime College (AMC), in Launceston, Tasmania.  This failed after four years through lack of international and national publicity by the Faculty, a great shame as the field for certified, civilian Cat A Hydrographic Education was wide open east of Goa, which now has its highly considered Cat A Course, as does Japan and Malaysia. Subsequently the splendid CAT A Course was established in Otago, New Zealand.


In the 1990s, encouraged and supported by AHS, Melbourne University developed an approved CAT A Course, but then failed to get it underway. In 1985 at the Port Access 85 Conference at the AMC, Launceston, the AHS was founded with Mal Jones charged with developing the West Australia Region and Ron Whitmore the East Australia Region.  So thanks to the many initiatives of the AHS, civilian hydrographic organisation and education was established in Australasia and with the continuing work of the AHS and SSSI Hydrography Commission still continues to a large degree today.


A big thank you to Ron Whitmore for providing the content for this article.  Ron is a member of the SSSI, MSI, IS(NSW) and an Emeritus Member and founding member of the AHS.  Ron is also an ex Member of the ISA, SSI, AIC and was the Australasian Branch Elected Member of the old Britocentric "The Hydrographic Society" and its Chairman of Council for 3 1/2 years.


New Sustaining Partner

The Hydrography Commission would like to welcome the Australian Hydrographic Service as a new sustaining partner for the commission. The Australian Hydrographic Service have signed on as a Platinum Sustaining Partner and we look forward to working with them for the further promotion of the industry and the commission.



Recent Events


AUSGeoid09 Webinar

The Hydrography Commission recently held the first online event for the SSSI, being a webinar on the newly released AUSGeoid09 and the application of GNSS heighting methods to hydrographic surveying.  The webinar was held on Wednesday the 31st August and ran for 90 minutes, entitling members to 1.5 CPD points.


The webinar went very well and was attended by around 50 people, many of whom were new to the technology.  Feedback from the webinar has been positive, especially from those members in regional areas who are unable to easily attend events held in the metro centres. 








Upcoming Events


57th UNB-OMG / UNH-CCOM Multibeam Training Course - CPD TBA (31 October - 5 November, 2011)

Fremantle, Western Australia    More info

Hydro 2011 Down Under - CPD TBA (7-10 November, 2011)

Fremantle, Western Australia    More info

Surveying and Spatial Sciences Conference - CPD TBA (21-25 November, 2011)

Wellington, New Zealand    More info


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