The first hydrographic survey performed by the Chilean Navy, in the cove and mouth of the Río Bueno, province of Valdivia, on board of the Brig of War “Aquiles” under the command of the Commander Mr. Roberto Simpson.


The first Chilean hydrographic survey performed at the Strait of Magellan, establishing the Colony of Fuerte Bulnes, which eventually gave way to the City of Punta Arenas.

1840 a 1860

During these years the first hydrographic surveys were performed in the Araucana region, which allowed integration the area to the Chilean territory.


By presidential Decree Nº329, dated May 1, the Hydrographic Office of the National Navy, in charge of directing in the future the publication of navigational charts of the country and its distribution among the vessels of the Navy and the maritime offices that need it. Graduated Commander Mr. Francisco Vidal was appointed Director, for his relevant conditions of hydrographic Surveyor, geographer, astronomer, and productive writer skills, who, helped by a single transcriber, initiated the huge and complex task that meant materializing and fulfilling the different dispositions demanded by his emerging regulations.

The first Hydrographic map produced by the Hydrographic Office was published in December, and corresponded to the “ Río Maullín y sus Tributarios”.


In January, Volume 1 of the Hydrographic Yearbook of the National Marine was published, and in February the first navigational charts go on sale, numbered in chronological order, together with the first navigational charts of the insular territory, corresponding to the maps of the Islands San Felix and San Ambrosio.

On May 15, the first edition of the “Noticias Hidrográficas”(Hydrographic News),is published, featuring information to assist the navigation; the publication has never been interrupted in 142 years. Nowadays, it is published under the name Bulletin of Notice for Navigators and it is released every month, in both paper and digital formats (online download available).


The Hydrographic Office performs explorations in the north of the country, publishing maps and courses of the region, which in the future would be of great use to the expeditionary forces during the Pacific War. This contribution was widely acknowledged by the then War Minister, Mr. José Francisco Vergara.


The Hydrographic Office inaugurates its Print workshop. The Workshop was robbed by the end of the Civil War in 1891, losing material and a large amount of documentation.


The Hydrographic Office moves to Valparaíso.


A huge earthquake in Valparaíso forces the Office to move temporarily to the Naval Arsenal.


The first classes in the Area of Navigation started. They were meant for Officers on board of the Corvette “General Baquedano”, the Frigate “Lautaro” and Corvette “Abtao”.


The Time Station is added to the Office, service that up until then had been part of the Naval Academy.


The Navigation Academy is created due to the need for more accuracy and precision in hydrographic work. This Academy is under the supervision of the Hydrographic Office, and later that year it goes under the supervision of another Navy Division until 1968.


Together with other 17 Foreign Hydrographic Offices, the Hydrographic Office of the Chilean Navy is now a founding member of the International Hydrographic Office, established in the Principality of Monaco. This office has as an objective the regulation of the hydrographic work methods and the production of navigational charts.


The original name was changed to “Departamento de Navegación e Hidrografía de la Armada”(Department of Navigation and Hydrography of the Navy).


By Legislative Decree Nº2.090, dated July 30, 1930, the Department is appointed as official technical authority to represent the State in navigational cartography, hydrography and related fields.

A system of electrical and mechanical pendulums brought from Germany is inaugurated, upgrading the old time station.


Incorporation of the first hydrographic vessel of the Navy, named “Vidal Gormaz” Upon its arrival in Chile, it was received by Admiral Mr. Julio Allard. This unit serviced until 1953.


The systematic and permanent observation of the tides starts with the installation of the first standard tide gauge in Valparaíso.


“Tablas de Marea de la Costa de Chile”(Tide tables in the Chilean Coast) is published for the first time as a result of the first standard tide gauge.


The Navigation Department represents Chile at the International Geophysical Year, in the field of oceanography, setting this date as the beginning for the development of a more systematic research of this science through the creation of the oceanography section.


The Hydrographic Office joins as a permanent member of the International Pacific Tsunami Warning System, being the official representative of Chile before this international organization.


The National Tsunami Warning System is organized and put into operation.


By Supreme Decree Nº 25, dated January 25, the Hydrographic Office is officially left in charge of the control and diffusion of the Official Time in Chile.


Its name changes to “Instituto Hidrográfico de la Armada de Chile”(IHA) (Hydrographic Institute of the Chilean Navy) in accordance with the Law Nº16.771 of that year.

Creation of the National Center for Oceanographic Data (CENDOC), with the objective of centralizing and processing the technical information referred to the Southern and South Pacific oceans.


Creation of the National Oceanographic Committee (CONA), on September 10, through the Supreme Decree No. 814, whose objective is to coordinate the effort made by organisms and institutions in charge of performing technical and scientific research in the area of marine sciences. The committee is presided over by the Director of the Hydrographic Institute of the Chilean Navy (IHA).

In the same year, and after the approval of the government, the IHA becomes the official representative of Chile before the International Hydrographic Organization, organism based in the Principality of Monaco.


The IHA celebrates its first centenary with several ceremonies attended by government and naval authorities, as well as other foreign officials.


As an alternative to the already functioning clock, a new cesium atomic clock is inaugurated to be used as a pattern of frequency and control of time signals.

The IHA is responsible for regulating the control of marine technologic and scientific researches in domestic waters.


The first oceanography program for officers takes place, with 3 graduating students.


A modern three-story plus base building is inaugurated. This new building holds the oceanography and computing departments after their original location had been seriously damaged by the 1985 earthquake.


Creation of the Instruction Centre, whose mission is to execute every educational activity arranged in the approved programs by the Educational Directorate of the Navy to educate professionals in the areas of hydrography, oceanography and graphic arts. The programs are meant for national and international officers, as well as for seafarers.


By Law Nº 19.002, the IHA changes its name to Servicio Hidrográfico y Oceanográfico de la Armada de Chile (Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy) (SHOA).


The SHOA begins the digital cartographic era through an Autocarta system, aided by an assisted computing environment.

In the same year, the new Oceanographic Vessels “Vidal Gormaz” is incorporated, providing relevant support to the research of our maritime-oceanic territory.


The project ELECTROCARTA starts its first stages of electronic cartography production, through the research and analysis of its related aspects.


The complete digitalization of three, out of six, navigational charts of the Strait of Magellan in a scale 1:100,000 is performed using a PC and the software CARIS/GIS 4.2.4.


Thanks to the investment in software, hardware and training, the department of Cartography establishes the basis of the current production flows in computer assisted cartography and Electronic Navigational charts. The international training and the complementation of the Route of the Strait of Magellan are the most important events in this year.

Also in 1996, and during the month of June, takes place the first test in the sea at the Strait of Magellan in S-57, version 2, on board of the ship LSG 1603 “Alacalufe”.

The IHO publishes in November a new set of standards for the production of electronic cartography, the S-57, edition 3.0, which will remain unmodified until 2002.


The Electronic Cartography Workshop is created in the Cartography department and the production of electronic navigational chart starts with the new standard 2-57, edition 3.0, based on all the paper cartography of aero photogrammetric origin and known data.


The production of Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) continues based on navigation routes.


The commercialization of the electronic cartography in format OHI-S-57, edition 3.0 started in the first trimester of this year. This commercialization was based on electronic navigational routes, formed by 10 or more ENCs each.
A new modern building houses the full Department of Cartography, concentrating all its production, charts graphic reproduction, navigational publications and related stages in one single place.
This four-story building houses on its first floor a modern offset bicolor printing press, brand Roland, model 902-6, imported from Germany, and whose format and automatization represents a milestone in the printing systems acquired by the institution, being this the first of its kind in Latin America.