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Hydrography has been a concern for the Turkish Navy since back in the 15th century. Piri Reis, the well-known Turkish admiral and mariner, compiled his work known as Kitab-ı Bahriye in 1531 which shows the courses in the Mediterranean.
This book features information, definitions and drawings about the Mediterranean coasts that are invaluable for navigation. Another important contribution of Piri Reis to the maritime cartography is his chart which shows all known courses in the 16th century.
After this promising commencement, the hydrographic activities of the Turkish navy have halted. No written documents from 17th and 18th centuries can be encountered.
In the beginning and the middle of the 19th century, two Turkish surveying vessels namely Ahter and Neyyırizafer have surveyed the Turkish coasts of the Black Sea.
The first Turkish Chart considered to be modern was published in 1840 at the printing house of the Mektebi Bahriye (School of the Navy). Including a part of the Black Sea, this chart is presently in the Naval Museum.
The survey of the Marmara Sea has been made in 1824 by a surveying ship called Gülsefit with Russian hydrographers. A few years later, the British Navy has made surveys in the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean, Turkish coasts of the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. The surveys made in that period constitute the basis of the Admiralty charts in Turkish waters.
By the end of the 19th century, between 1890 and 1900, Turkish ships had surveying missions from time to time. Two Turkish naval officers were sent to the Department of Admiralty Hydrography in 1901 in order to learn the copper plate method. One year after the return of the officers, copper plate charts started to be produced in the printing houses of the Turkish Navy.
The first official Hydrographic Organization was established in 1909 under the name of Maritime Surveying and Navigation Office, and was linked to the Ministry of Navy. The mission of the office originally was to organize and perpetuate lighthouses, publish notices to mariners and to provide the navigation instruments to the navy. Two years later in 1911, the office was reorganized obtaining a relatively more independent status with the name Office of Navigation and Marine Charts.
By the end of 1928, the office was connected to General Command of Charts - formerly called General Directorate of Geodetic Surveys - constituting its Marine Charts Branch.
Connected back to the Command of Turkish Armed Forces in 1950, it was transferred to Kasımpaşa/Haliç under the name Department of Navigation and Hydrography. Its activities were improved taking subjects of modern marine war more seriously. In 1956, the department moved to its present location Çubuklu, and in addition to the current equipment, modern electronic, oceanographic, geophysical and lithographic tools have been acquired. The name of the department was changed in 1972 to the Department of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography so as to signify three main functions.