The Princess Royal officially opened the new home of UK Hydrographic Office in a ceremony on April 26.
Construction of the new headquarters for the 850 data analysers, hydrographers, cartographers, environmental experts and scientists took 18 months to complete and was ready for operations in January.
The building was formally dedicated by Princess Anne, hosted by Earl Howe, Minister of State for Defence, and Rear Admiral Tim Lowe, Acting Chief Executive and National Hydrographer.
Seafarers around the world – including every Royal Navy warship and submarine, as well as the support vessels of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – rely on the accurate charts (maps) produced by the team from Taunton to guide them safely around the seven seas.
It uses data and information gathered by Royal Navy survey ships – HMS Protector in the Antarctic, HMS Scott largely in the Atlantic, HMS Echo and Enterprise all over the globe and new HMS Magpie in coastal waters – to ensure the charts are as accurate as possible.
For nearly 80 years it’s been based in Taunton, but the site and buildings it originally occupied were deemed unfit for 21st-Century hydrographic and geospatial information service, especially as it switches from traditional paper charts to providing a digital service instead.
“I hope this new building will encourage people to understand what you do here and thank you for it,” Princess Royal said. “We are looking to you in the future to be at the forefront of hydrographic and geospatial information.”