National Current Observation Program (NCOP)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/ National Ocean Service's (NOS) Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) manages the National Current Observation Program (NCOP) to collect, analyze, and distribute observations and predictions of currents. The program's goals are to ensure safe, efficient and environmentally sound maritime commerce, and to support environmental needs such as HAZMAT response. The principal product generated by this program is information used to maintain and update the Tidal Current Tables.
Most of the data presently in use was collected between 1930 and 1980 when significant resources were dedicated to the program. From the 1960s through the mid-1980s, two NOAA ships (the McARTHUR on the West Coast and Alaska, and the FERREL on the East Coast) and numerous staff oceanographers and technicians were dedicated full-time to the collection, processing, and analysis of tidal current data. These complete comprehensive physical oceanographic surveys measured currents, water levels, water temperatures and salinity, and meteorological data. Many were the first complete physical studies ever conducted on major U.S. estuaries.
Due to budget cuts and ship reassignments in the late 1980s, the program was reduced significantly. Since the mid-1990s, the National Current Observation Program has been recognized as fulfilling a vital mission of national interest to both the maritime industry and environmental stewardship. As a result, many organizations strongly recommend that it is time for the program's data to be updated.