Some national hydrographic offices are phasing out traditional paper nautical charts while others are still determining how to transition to an all-digital future. In that regard, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has issued a Marine Safety Advisory to warn ship managers and operators about this change.
s informed, by January 2025, the US will end the production of paper nautical charts and raster navigational charts. In addition, in March 2022, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) proposed a rulemaking proceeding on Electronic Chart and Navigational Equipment Carriage Requirements.
The proposed rule outlined a broad strategy to revise the chart and navigational equipment requirements for commercial US-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels operating in the US waters. A final rule is pending.
As regards the United Kingdom (UK), their hydrographic office (UKHO) would withdraw from producing paper nautical charts by the end of 2026. However, in response to user feedback, UKHO revised their plans by committing to continue their paper chart service until at least 2030.
However, when paper nautical charts are the primary means of navigation or used as the dedicated back-up to an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) for a vessel’s area of operation and they are no longer available through the common providers, compliance may be met by: Obtaining alternative approved charts and installing an ECDIS.
If an ECDIS is fitted, then the Master and officer in charge of a navigational watch must undergo ECDIS training per applicable SOLAS and the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers requirements, regardless of the vessel’s size or type.
As a cautionary note, Electronic Chart Systems (ECSs) and other devices that electronically display the vessel’s position and nautical chart data on a display screen do not meet all the International Maritime Organization requirements for ECDIS. They are not currently intended to satisfy SOLAS Chapter V requirements and therefore are not permitted to be used onboard RMI-flagged vessels in lieu of approved nautical charts.