The National Hydrographic Office was established in 1984, and is accredited to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) as the focal point for Hydrography in Sri Lanka.
The principle service of the NHO is carrying out hydrographic surveys through systematic data collection of inshore, near shore, and offshore. These activities in the sea cover up to the limit of Exclusive Economic Zone of Sri Lanka. In addition, hydrographic surveys of Inland water bodies are carried out too. NHO produces and disseminates information in support of maritime navigation safety and marine environment preservation, defense, exploration, and research & management plans.
The immediate outputs of the NHO are nautical charts, thematic maps on fisheries and other user oriented hydrographic maps involving digital & analogue hydrographic data.
Hydrographic data obtained from surveys, is mainly used for port & harbour development, coastal zone management, delimitation of the limits of national maritime jurisdiction, control of marine pollution, provision of data for coast conservation and coastal engineering projects and provision of charts for navigation. Presently the NHO is capable of carrying out hydrographic surveys hydrographic data to a depth of 5000 m, which is well within the continental margin of Sri Lanka. .