History of Nautical Charting

The first organised charting of Danish waters was undertaken in the late 1600s.

This included mapping the country’s 500 islands and 7000-km long coastline. The existing nautical charts at the time were extremely inaccurate and unreliable and a complete survey was ordered. In addition, a nation-wide property registration in 1687 required an accurate geographic record of the country’s geographical assets. The crown ordered a comprehensive land and sea survey to fill these voids. Thus Jens Sørensen was named Denmark’s Director of Nautical Charts in 1689.

Following Jens Sørensen’s death in 1723, responsibility for nautical surveying and charting was transferred to the Danish School of Navigation. The project came to a standstill, however, due to the country’s poor economic situation and the Nordic War of 1720. A handful of individuals were given permission to distribute nautical charts during this period.

In 1784, captain lieutenant Poul de Løwenørn assisted the Danish crown in establishing the Royal Danish Nautical Chart Archive. He was appointed the institution’s first Director. At this time, only France had a similar institute.

In the first instance, the Danish Admirality requested Løwenørn to collect all existing nautical charts and navigational details in the country, for both Danish and international waters. He was to develop accurate and reliable charts for both the Navy and Merchant Marine.

In addition to these formidable tasks, Løwenørn also took the initiative to establish a Lighthouse Authority, a Buoy Authority and a Pilot Authority as well as improve the country’s harbours.

Løwenørn’s three authorities were merged with the Nautical Chart Archive and Life Guard in 1973 with the establishment of the Royal Danish Administration of Navigation and Hydrography. In 1988, the Danish government established the country’s first central mapping agency, and merged the Nautical Chart Archive with the country’s Land Register and Geodetic Institute. Thus, the National Survey and Cadastre was born on January 1, 1989. On January 1, 2013 the name was changed to Danish Geodata Agency.