The International Hydrographic Organization: One Hundred Years of International Cooperation in Hydrography

Luigi Sinapi Luigi Sinapi International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)


International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)


The International Hydrographic Organization is an intergovernmental organization that works to ensure all the world's seas, oceans and navigable waters are surveyed and charted. Established in 1921, it coordinates the activities of national hydrographic offices and promotes uniformity in nautical charts and documents. It issues survey best practices, provides guidelines to maximize the use of hydrographic survey data and develops hydrographic capabilities in Member States.

Hydrography is the basis for all activities involving the sea such as Safety of navigation, Tourism, Protection and management of the marine environment, Coastal zone management, Marine science, Fishing, aquaculture and mariculture, Use of marine resources: minerals, oil & gas, renewable energy and many others.

Nowadays, hydrography is more and more related to reconciling the use and the preservation of the marine environment, through the involvement in global initiative to contribute to the oceans' knowledge and their sustainable exploration and exploitation.

Traditionally hydrographic data was used mostly for the safety of navigation, but it can actually be used by a wide variety of stakeholders and is an example of how relevant hydrography is in discussions on the protection of the oceans: to monitor changes and effectively protect.

Over the past 100 years, the IHO has provided its support in knowledge, technology and new standards to the Hydrographic Offices and the Maritime Community, enlarging the membership and increasing the cooperation amongst its member States and the hydrographic Regions.


Rear Admiral Luigi Sinapi was born in Grosseto (Italy) on August 27 1967. He joined the Naval Academy in Livorno (Italy) in 1985.
Rear Admiral Sinapi was:

  • Commanding Officer of the MIRTO Survey Vessel
  • Naval Staff Officer at the NATO Navy Command in Naples (Italy)
  • Commanding Officer of Frigate ZEFFIRO
  • Commanding Officer of Destroyer DURAND DE LA PENNE
  • Head of the Financial Planning, the Operations and Logistics departments of the Italian Navy General Staff
  • Director of the Italian Hydrographic Institute from October 2015 to July 2020.

From 1st September 2020, Rear Admiral Sinapi has been elected IHO Director for six years.

Among the many medals and decorations he was awarded in the course of his career, RAdm Sinapi received the Commemorative Medal for the 11th Italian Expedition to Antarctica, NATO Medals for the former state of Yugoslavia and Kosovo operations, and the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Knight).

RAdm Sinapi earned the following:

  • II level degree in Physics at the University of Lecce (Italy)
  • I level degree in Navigation and Maritime Science at the University of Pisa (Italy)
  • II level degree in International Diplomacy at the University of Trieste (Italy)
  • II level master in Marine Geomatics at the University of Genoa (Italy) - IHO-FIG-ICA, Category A Hydrography
  • Master in International Strategic and Military studies at the CASD, Centre for the Defense Higher Studies, Rome (Italy).

RAdm Sinapi taught hydrography and geodesy at the Parthenope University, Naples (Italy), and has published a number of essays in national and international journals and reviews.

He has been member of a number of technical and scientific national and international committees in the fields of navigation, hydrography, cartography, marine geophysics and oceanography.
He chaired the IHO MBSHC, Mediterranean and Black Sea Hydrographic Commission from 2017 to 2019, and the IHO HSSC, Hydrographic Services and Standards Committee, from 2017 to 2020.

RAdm Sinapi is married to Dr. Loredana Lupoli and has two sons, Giovanni and Angelo. His hobbies are navigation, sailing, basketball and tennis.

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