Safe and efficient navigation in Harwich Harbour depends on regular, accurate hydrographic surveys of the harbour and deepwater approach channel.

We are responsible for hydrographic surveying of the area, which operates a dedicated survey launch, the Egret, equipped with multibeam echo sounder (MBES) and other high-tech surveying equipment. The hydrographic team also uses side scanning and sampling in its work.

In the harbour and main deepwater channel, regular surveying is required to identify where maintenance dredging is required. Surveying is also used to check for and pinpoint any obstructions on the seabed, such as an anchor or a lost container. Accurate directions can then be given to divers deployed to remove the object.

The main channel is surveyed every year; the outer edges are surveyed every two years, and other areas are surveyed less frequently in order to monitor depths and any changes.

We also monitor both the Orwell and Stour for environmental rather than navigational reasons. Both rivers are surveyed on a five-year rolling programme to ensure that dredging in the harbour is not impacting on designated conservation and environmental sites.

All hydrographic surveys are carried out in accordance with the International Hydrographic Organisation’s guidelines and we provide all stakeholders with up-to-date, accurate hydrographic and environmental information.

The Authority also provides continuous hydrographical and meteorological and maintains a close liaison with the UK Hydrographic Office.