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Short Citation:
Office for Coastal Management, 2023: Wrecks and Obstructions,

Item Identification

Title: Wrecks and Obstructions
Status: Completed
Publication Date: 2023-08-14

Ship wrecks and obstructions in the ocean have long been a hazard to navigation and construction, and a point of interest to archeologist, recreational divers, fisherman, educators and explorers. Locating hazardous wrecks and obstructions is part of the ongoing NOAA charting process. The exact position of many wrecks is difficult to determine because of changes in the environment, varied survey methods, and human error. Some wrecks are intentionally placed in the ocean to serve as artificial reefs or for disposal. Others pose a health and environmental threat from their cargo. Ownership and control over wrecks and obstructions is governed by a collection of state and federal regulations, the Abandoned Shipwreck Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

These data are a synthesis of two sources - the NOAA Office of Coast Survey's 2016 Automated Wreck and Obstruction Information System (AWOIS), and the NOAA Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC). Not included were those records that were clearly identified as natural features such as rocks, shoals, and trees. Features are recorded as either a wreck, wreck area, obstruction, or unknown.


To support ocean planning activities pursuant to the Executive Order Regarding the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States, the Energy Policy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Supplemental Information:

Bureau Code: 006:48, Program Code: 006:055


Theme Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Science Keywords
ISO 19115 Topic Category
ISO 19115 Topic Category
ISO 19115 Topic Category
None coastal
None planning
None renewable energy

Spatial Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Location Keywords
None Exclusive Economic Zone
None Outer Continental Shelf
None Territorial Sea

Physical Location

Organization: Office for Coastal Management
City: Charleston
State/Province: SC

Data Set Information

Data Set Scope Code: Data Set
Maintenance Frequency: None Planned
Data Presentation Form: Map (digital)
Entity Attribute Overview:

objectCategory, objectName, positionQuality, yearSunk, sourceRecord, sourceDate, dataSourceName, comment

sourceRecord key for ENC sources:

1) ENCHWPT = 1:5,000 to 1:50,000 wreck point

2) ENCHOPT = 1:5,000 to 1:50,000 obstruction point

3) ENCHWA = 1:5,000 to 1:50,000 wreck area

4) ENCAWPT = 1:50,000 to 1:150,000 wreck point

5) ENCAOPT = 1:50,000 to 1:150,000 obstruction point

6) ENCAWA = 1:50,000 to 1:150,000 wreck area

Distribution Liability:

Data Set Credit: NOAA Office of Coast Survey, NOAA Office for Coastal Management

Support Roles

Point of Contact

CC ID: 1264123
Date Effective From: 2018-06
Date Effective To:
Contact (Organization): NOAA Office for Coastal Management (NOAA/OCM)
Address: 2234 South Hobson Ave
Charleston, SC 29405-2413
Email Address:
Phone: (843) 740-1202


Currentness Reference: Publication Date

Extent Group 1

Extent Group 1 / Geographic Area 1

CC ID: 1264135
W° Bound: -178.4
E° Bound: 179.3
N° Bound: 71.4
S° Bound: -14.4

Extent Group 1 / Time Frame 1

CC ID: 1264134
Time Frame Type: Discrete
Start: 2023-08-01

publication date

Spatial Information

Spatial Representation

Representations Used

Grid: No
Vector: Yes
Text / Table: No
Stereo Model: No
Video: No

Vector Representation 1

CC ID: 1264129
Complex Object Present?: No
Composite Object Present?: No
Curve Object Present?: No
Point Object Present?: Yes
Point Object Count: 41941
Solid Object Present?: No
Surface Object Present?: No

Reference Systems

Reference System 1

CC ID: 1264130

Coordinate Reference System

CRS Type: Geographic 2D
EPSG Code: EPSG:4269
EPSG Name: NAD83
See Full Coordinate Reference System Information

Access Information

Security Class: Unclassified
Data Use Constraints:

For coastal and ocean planning

Distribution Information

Distribution 1

CC ID: 1264124
Download URL:
Description: Data Registry

Distribution 2

CC ID: 1264125
Download URL:

Technical Environment


Microsoft Windows, ArcGIS Pro, Azure SQL

Data Quality



Analytical Accuracy:

Multiple records at slightly different locations may exist in a small number of cases for a single wreck or obstruction. This can occur when 2 or more sources are used, and the sources do not include sufficient detail to identify the feature. This can also occur when a single wreck or obstruction is mapped at multiple time frames using different survey methods and technology.

Horizontal Positional Accuracy:

Compiled to meet 30 meters horizontal accuracy at 95% confidence level

Completeness Report:


Conceptual Consistency:

These data are logically consistent



Automated Wreck and Obstruction Information System

CC ID: 1264141
Contact Role Type: Originator
Contact Type: Organization
Contact Name: NOAA Office of Coast Survey
Publish Date: 2016-01-01
Citation URL:
Source Contribution:

Position and attribute values for wrecks and obstructions

NOAA Electronic Navigational Charts

CC ID: 1264147
Contact Role Type: Originator
Contact Type: Organization
Contact Name: NOAA Office of Coast Survey
Publish Date: 2023-08-01
Citation URL:
Source Contribution:

DangersP(30) > Harbor.Obstruction_point(33)

DangersP(30) > Harbor.Wreck_point(36)

DangersA(153) > Harbor.Obstruction_area(156)

DangersA(153) > Harbor.Wreck_area(158)

DangersP(30) > Approach.Obstruction_point(36)

DangersP(30) > Approach.Wreck_point(39)

DangersA(158) > Approach.Obstruction_area(161)

DangersA(158) > Approach.Wreck_area(163)

Process Steps

Process Step 1

CC ID: 1264132

1) Acquire primary sources

2) Normalize the data structure

3) Transform polygon features to a polygon centroid point feature

4) Remove duplicate values from the ENC Approach class when there was co-occurrence within a 100-meter range in the Harbor class

5) Remove characters from the COMMENT field identified as, special, formatting, reserved, and unnecessary white space

6) Standardize all unknown, blank and null-like values to a consistent format

7) Standardize all character fonts to uppercase

8) Remove features clearly identified as natural

9) Amend the OBJECTCATEGORY field when values in the COMMENT field indicate a specific category

10) MERGE the source data into a single point feature class

11) Optimize field type and field size settings

Process Date/Time: 2023-08-09 00:00:00
Process Contact: NOAA Office for Coastal Management (NOAA/OCM)
Phone (Voice): (843) 740-1202
Email Address:

Catalog Details

Catalog Item ID: 70439
GUID: gov.noaa.nmfs.inport:70439
Metadata Record Created By: Daniel Martin
Metadata Record Created: 2023-08-10 13:53+0000
Metadata Record Last Modified By: Daniel Martin
Metadata Record Last Modified: 2023-08-10 18:33+0000
Metadata Record Published: 2023-08-10
Owner Org: OCM
Metadata Publication Status: Published Externally
Do Not Publish?: N
Metadata Last Review Date: 2019-04-25
Metadata Review Frequency: 1 Year
Metadata Next Review Date: 2020-04-25