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NGA’s Maritime Safety Office enables safe arrival of US destroyer

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brian Diebold, commanding officer of guided missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin, greets Dalia Grybauskaite, President of Lithuania, while in port in Klaipeda, Lithuania. NGA’s Maritime Safety Office helped the ship navigate to the Lithuanian port. Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class DJ Revell, U.S. Navy

By Nancy McGillicuddy, NGA Office of Corporate Communications

The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s Maritime Safety Office helped USS Oscar Austin navigate to a Lithuanian port by providing in record time the digital nautical charts vital for safely traversing the waters in the Baltic region.

Designated DDG 79, the guided missile destroyer was in the area to strengthen regional maritime security and increase cooperation with NATO and regional partners, in accordance with objectives established by the Department of State, U.S. European Command and the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet.

The ship was slated to arrive to the Central Klaipeda Terminal pier in Klaipeda, Lithuania, July 3, but could not dock at the newly constructed pier without updated specifics on a recently dredged approach, said Capt. Ray Chartier, director of NGA’s Maritime Safety Office.

“The navigators did not have DNCs that included a new Lithuanian pier,” said Chartier. “Cmdr. Brian Diebold (USS Oscar Austin’s commanding officer) said to me that he would not go to the new pier without NGA's official and certified charts in his navigation system."

The Maritime Safety Office used high-resolution imagery, existing DNC coverage and information from notices to mariners to verify the accuracy of port information provided by the Lithuanian navy, said Chartier. NGA also released this information as an approved NGA DNC update.

The process of updating DNC products can take three to four months using normal contract vendor production methods said Chartier. But the Maritime Safety Office completed the request in two days using new and limited in-house production capabilities.

“While supporting U.S. 6th Fleet, U.S. European Command and allied partnerships in the region, NGA provided essential port details that allowed this important mission to continue,” said Chartier. “This type of service to the fleet is what we are here for.”

Diebold lauded NGA for its stellar support.

“I cannot thank you enough for the work your team did to support our port visit,” said Diebold in an email to Chartier.

Several dignitaries visited the ship while it was in port, including Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and the U.S. ambassador to Lithuania, Deborah McCarthy.

“This was an important reminder of how vital our mission is in support of national security and international partnerships,” said Chartier.