On April 15, 1912, British Royal Mail Ship TITANIC, the largest luxury passenger liner of the time – and supposedly unsinkable – struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. The sinking of the RMS TITANIC prompted countries with shipping interests in the North Atlantic to improve communications at sea. The following year, the first Safety of Life at Sea Convention gathered in London. The convention led to the creation of the International Ice Patrol, which located and tracked icebergs in the North Atlantic and issued warnings in the vicinity of icebergs. As a result of the convention, all vessels at sea were required to maintain a 24-hour radio watch.
By 1921, these radio officers at sea were receiving safety messages from the Navigation Safety and Warning Service, maintained by NGA predecessor organizations. Today, NGA is responsible for broadcasting time-sensitive marine safety messages. NGA’s Maritime Watch plays an indispensable role in NGA’s mission to warn mariners on the high seas of hazards to navigation.