The enormous task facing hydrographers surveying the world's continental shelves (many areas of which have never been surveyed) helped by the progress of electronics (multibeam, Lidar...) leads the way for navigational safety, changing the antique nature of many nautical charts available for better quality information.
The growing interest in electronic charts (fuelled by the ECDIS mandate), means that all shipping vessels must consider how to implement a suitable policy that addresses both electronic and paper products for the bridge.
The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires that, "All ships should carry adequate and up-to-date charts, sailing directions, lists of lights, notices to mariners, tide tables, and all other nautical publications necessary for the intended voyage".
IMO's push for e-Navigation and the introduction of a mandatory carriage requirement for ECDIS from 2012 could help to reduce the possibility of vessels sailing with charts that do not represent the most accurate and up-to- date representation of their navigational environment.
The concept of e-Navigation (proposed by IMO member States in 2006) is a process for the harmonisation, collection, integration, exchange and presentation of maritime information.
There are many reasons for moving to Electronic Charts.
Safety is certainly the first one but paper is also getting more expensive every year and chart-correcting skills harder to find. By the way, it's quite obvious that as take-up grows, costs will be lower so savings will be stronger.
The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office has always been a pioneer and experimenter.
UKHO stepped into the new era of digital maritime navigation with its first system incorporating a digitised catalogue, product viewer and passage planning tool ensuring a safer and more efficient navigational aid for the mariner.
Fortifying the future transition to digital navigation, Admiralty e-Navigator organises, updates, and brings together all the paper and digital information required in the safe planning of voyages, proffering access to a wealth of information as well as the capacity to organise, maintain, and display all requisite data on the bridge instantaneously.
“Maritime navigation is undergoing a fundamental shift, from paper to digital, from protective to proactive navigation,” revealed Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the UKHO. “It is moving beyond the basic avoidance of risk towards the International Maritime Organization’s vision of e-navigation, which will deliver enhanced services to the mariner.”
Underlining how the Admiralty e-Navigator is designed to provide seafarers with not only comprehensive navigational data, but also intelligence which will significantly improve the ability to sail more safely and efficiently, Mr Robinson indicated the importance of electronic systems at the forefront of shipping’s future.
With instant access to navigational data for route planning as well as automated updates, such a product is revolutionising the maritime world.
Also incorporated into the e-Navigator as well as tide and weather data is Admiralty Information Overlay (AIO), the only global digital service that includes worldwide Temporary and Preliminary Notices to Mariners, ensuring even greater standards of safety for international shipping.
The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has also launched the Admiralty Vector Chart Service (AVCS).
AVCS will provide the international mariner with an integrated global set of Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) schemed in folios along the major shipping routes and covering the world's top ports, with ordering, flexible licensing and updating services.
The transmission of digital chart data, whether by satellite or using other broadcast systems, is quite obviously the fastest way of getting the latest corrections on to a vessel bridge.
For example, the ChartCo Broadcast service, which uses the Inmarsat point to multi-point service, has recently introduced ChartCo Select which offers to deliver updates to UKHO's Admiralty Vector Chart Service (AVCS) cells across both its Broadcast and Select delivery services.
The ENCTrack service from Datema includes a licensing setup which allows a vessel to access all ENC charts for planning purposes before actually paying for them.
Charts are available at all times, removing the need for ordering, and the ship is free to deviate from its original plan without being restricted by the ENCs it had previously ordered.
The basis of payment for the ENCTrack service is a tracking system which automatically compares the position of the ship to its chart holdings, transferring the position via satellite, and orders additional charts if the vessel sails out of its existing license area.
For its part, the Alliance for Safe Navigation lead by Jeppesen (C-Map) consists of industry leaders that all share a commitment to boating safety.
The goal of the alliance is to raise the boating community’s understanding of and appreciation for up-to-date navigational information.
The alliance encourages mariners to recognize the large number of changes made to their charts and to keep their electronic and paper charts accurate, which is inexpensive and easy to do.
By the way, e-Navigation.com is a service developed by Jeppesen to support the maritime community as it prepares for the ECDIS mandate, and the expanding field of e-Navigation.
- DigitalShip (March 2010) : Out of date charts lead to accidents
- London P&I club (StopLoss Bulletin #53 January 2010) : Keeping charts up to date
- ECDIS Ltd : The dangers of Out-of-Date nautical charts
- UKHO : The future of navigation
- Jeppesen : Boat Smart, Update Your Charts
- The Electronic Chart, supporting your transition to ECDIS navigation
- IALA : e-Nav FAQs
- EfficienSea : efficient, safe and sustainable traffic at sea