NOAA wants to stop making NOAA charts

New Bedford, MA – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to cease support for producing the 1,000-plus NOAA charts that millions of boaters use and rely on for safe navigation.

NOAA decided to privatize the printing of NOAA paper charts several years ago by certifying private companies to print official NOAA paper charts. A 2014 article published on their website was entitled: NOAA’s Paper Nautical Charts are Here to Stay, New certified printing agents bring buying options. In the article, the former director of NOAA’s Office Coast Survey (OCS) said: “We asked private companies to help us transition from the government-run system to a robust and competitive market for paper nautical charts, and we are pleased with the results.”

Despite the decision to privatize print chart production several years ago, NOAA has released a National Charting Plan that calls for ceasing production of the images used to print the charts. The action will have a profound effect on recreational boating.

After the 2017 National Charting Plan was released, the current director of OCS was quoted in a media account as saying that it was “a major pivot point at OCS” and that “the paper era is finished.”

NOAA’s Raster PDF images are the sources for publishing print products that are widely used by coastal recreational boaters in conjunction with electronics, such as waterproof charts, chartbooks and cruising guides. NOAA also proposes to eliminate the electronic raster nautical chart (also known as BSB) files that are used by many software systems and navigation plotting systems.

The change sought by NOAA is due to its use of Electronic Nautical Chart (ENC) data, which consists of layers of vector data designed for use in expensive commercial Electronic Display Information Systems (ECDIS). The ENC database is designed for commercial use and does not contain all of the detail available in NOAA paper charts or raster nautical (RNC) charts in areas that are not frequented by commercial vessels.

Several private chart companies do an excellent job of reformatting NOAA data into vector databases that are widely used by U.S. boaters in chart plotters. GPS systems and chart plotters are incredibly useful but prudent mariners know that one should always have a set of paper charts on board for reference and backup in case of electronic malfunction or power failure. Virtually all boating safety and captain training schools teach plotting skills using paper charts in order to ensure safe navigation. Many boaters also prefer raster nautical chart (BSB format) files electronically due to the detail, look and feel of the traditional NOAA chart, and they match the charts on which they learned to navigate.

NOAA has done an exemplary job of producing some of the best charts available anywhere. It would be highly detrimental to boating safety and prudent navigation if they were to implement this proposal.

New generation of ship voyage planning revealed

Ship operators will be able to optimise voyages and route around bad weather following the release of a new software platform for vessel bridge systems. GNS has introduced the Voyager Hub applications platform that enables vessel owners to enhance safety, improve efficiency and reduce costs.

This hub has a suite of applications for ship navigation, information sharing and more secure integration of data. GNS said it can help protect against cyber threats and helps with the transfer of electronic navigational charts (ENCs) to ship ECDIS.

GNS’s partners created suites of software applications and content ranging from navigation to voyage optimisation to weather and non-navigation related services. “The Voyager Hub ecosystem is harnessing big data and delivering exciting new digitally-led efficiencies and safety improvements to a wide range of stakeholders both ashore and on board,” said GNS chief executive Paul Stanley.

Among these applications, is GNS’s new V-Drive, which simplifies the process of transferring ENCs, ENC updates, permits and route files from the back of bridge computer to the ECDIS while helping to protect against the transfer of malware. Users plug the V-Drive into the USB socket of their computer to transfer files, then plug the V-Drive into the ECDIS USB port to upload the files.

Another application within the hub is the Witherby eBook reader, which provides access to 600 nautical publications, plus information from IMO and industry organisations, such as Intertanko and SIGTTO (Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators). This application has a global search facility that enables ship officers to find the information they need quickly and efficiently and download new editions.

Also on the hub is the Admiralty eBook reader, which provides access to the UK Hydrographic Office’s electronic nautical publication library. There is a choice of weather routeing solutions from companies such as Meteo Group, a tool to manage technical library compliance and an application that generates a passage plan for routes planned using GNS’s Voyager planning station.

The hub enables managers to monitor usage of ENCs purchased via GNS’s Voyager Open Permit pay-as-you-sail and fixed-price bundle services. There is also a tool that checks the cyber health of the back of bridge computer, on which the hub resides, and identifies potential weaknesses and issues.

Original Source: http://www.marinemec.com/news/view,new-generation-of-ship-voyage-planning-revealed_49536.htm

ecdisENC.com Claims to be Cheapest and Easiest ENC Chart Distributor

The new web portal ecdisENC.com claims to be the lowest priced and easiest to use ENC chart distributor in the world.

It features a 60 second quote tool, once you download the free world chart catalogue. You can then simply add rough waypoints for a passage, or select an area, and then finally choose a license period between 3 and 12 months.

There is a short video on the website which explains the simple process, it is worth generating a no-obligation quote even if it just to compare with your current provider.

For more information and see the how-to video, visit www.ecdisENC.com.