National Geographic : 1903 Feb
WORK OF THE U. S. HYDROGRAPHIC OFFICE ried Prince Peter, the present head of the Karageorgeovitch family, which ap proves of his selection; and thus, if he were to reach the Servian throne, the feud that has wrecked that country might be permanently healed. The suc cess of this arrangement, involving the peace of Servia, the supremacy of Rus sia in its government, and perhaps the political control of the Balkan Penin sula, is checked by the refusal of a good woman to receive a bad woman as her guest. Count Lamsdorff, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, has recently visited Sofia and Belgrade, and the newspaper dispatches from those coun tries predict events of importance to occur soon. THE WORK OF THE U. S. HYDROGRAPHIC OFFICE* BY COMMANDER W. H. H. SOUTHERLAND, U. S. N., HYDROGRAPHER I APPEAR before you this evening to describe the work of the U. S. Hydrographic Office, and in so doing I shall make an earnest effort to give you as definite an idea as possible of the character, mode of operation, and the valuable practical results of this the most unique and at the same time the least known of all the technical offices supported by our government unique in that it is the only office on this continent which publishes charts, sailing directions, and other necessary aids to navigation relating to foreign countries, and little known in that its work is principally for a particular class-the seafaring class. ORGANIZATION AND HISTORY OF THE OFFICE Before proceeding with this descrip tion, a short resume of the phases through which the office has passed from its inception to the present time may prove of interest. Prior to 1830, whenever a naval ves sel was in need of charts or nautical in struments it was the custom for the commanding officer to forward to the Board of Navy Commissioners a requisi tion for such of these articles as he deemed necessary. This requisition, when approved by the board, was sent to the navy agent at the port where the vessel was fitting out, who filled it as far as possible by purchase from foreign governments or from the few private dealers in this country. These purchases were afterwards supplemented during the vessel's cruise by such additions as were from time to time deemed advisa ble by the commanding officer; and at the end of the cruise, when the vessel was put out of commission, her charts and instruments were turned in at a navy yard, where they were stowed away and no further attention was paid to them until they might be needed again. The result, of course, was that very often needed charts could not be pur chased and delivered before the date of sailing, or instruments were placed on board without being adjusted or stand ardized, and it was very seldom that charts so purchased had been corrected up to date. In fact, no official means then existed by which mariners could * An address before the National Geographic Society, January 16, 1903.