In the days of sailing ships, the chart house was actually a little “house” on the main deck near the helm, hence the name. On the American Victory, as on most modern ships, the chart house is located adjacent to the wheel house, both being on the bridge deck and contiguous to each other. On Victory ships there were two means of access to the chart house, e.g., directly from the wheel house and by inside ladder from the deck below directly into the chart house.
The general configuration, described above, developed naturally following the old adage that form follows function. In the process of navigating, the people on the bridge depend upon accurate and timely data developed in the nearby chart house, using the ship’s collection of navigational information..
Information of many kinds necessary to the safe navigation of the ship was kept in various files and locations in the chart house. Some of the following are examples of the kinds of information that was stored there.
1. Charts – Incl., Pilot Charts, Voyage Charts, Harbor Charts, etc.
2. Light Lists – Describe characteristics of all light houses, light towers and lighted aids to navigation in a given section of coast.
3. Coast Pilots – Descriptions of coastal areas, possible hazards and general information that is helpful to the mariner.
4. Notices to Mariners, etc., – Weekly changes to charts. Information which must be transferred to a chart to keep it current.
5. Nautical Almanac – Used for celestial navigation.
6. Navigation Rules - Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, International and Inland.
7. Precomputed Tables of Altitude and Azimuth, used for celestial navigation.
8. Various navigational texts and manuals.
9. Operating manuals for bridge equipment.
10. Various records of the ships operating characteristics.
11. Ship’s log
12. Misc., Records and Information,